If there is one word you are going to hear a lot at SNW this year, it's "cloud." Everyone is going to have something going on with cloud storage. Even companies that really don't have anything new to offer will suddenly have a "cloud offering." In addition to the whole cloud conversation, I think there is going to be some heated discussion around SAS-2 vs. Fibre. SAS-2 brings a 6-Gb/s transfer rate, a standardized expander zoning and backward compatibility. How will SAS as an infrastructure be able to compete with fibre? How far up the data center scale can it go? Is it really ready for the enterprise?
On the cloud storage front there is going to be more discussion about TRILL vs. Spanning Tree. In short, as cloud compute providers begin to build these extremely large data centers, the infrastructure needs to change to keep up with them. There is a real need to increase switch and port density and get around the limits of today's storage networks. As I mentioned in my last entry, FcoE will be part of this conversation but so will backbone infrastructure switches and I/O virtualization. This part of the conversation (TRILL vs. Spanning Tree) though may be less about the nuts and bolts of the data center and more about the type of thread we use to put those together. This is going to move quickly from futures conversation to a real-world discussion as a few data centers are reaching the end of what they can do with today's infrastructures.
For those providing storage as a service, they are going to be looking for companies that can help them solve the more immediate problem with current architectures. There is an emerging segment of the market that I refer to as the "arms merchants" of cloud storage. The companies that will provide the physical hardware and/or software to those cloud providers will be at SNW in abundance as will the potential users of those products. There is a lot of shake out still to happen in this space, as well as quite a few companies still waiting to make their mark. The challenge here, especially for the legacy suppliers, is to prove that their solutions are truly cloud-enabling, not just a repackaged legacy storage system.
Finally, there is deduplication. Hard to believe that I can actually put dedupe last on the list after all the turmoil of last year. That's not to say that deduplication won't be on everyone's mind. The backup side will continue to be about scale and performance. Also in backup will be the big push to integrate deduplication directly into the backup application. A trend that will continue to pick up steam. Will deduplication appliances survive? The other continuing dedupe trend will be putting dedupe into primary storage, either through built-in capabilities, OEM capabilities or add-on software or appliances. Deduplication is not yet to the shake out point but it may come in the later part of this year.
I'm sure that's just the tip of the SNW iceberg each year a vendor hits me with something that is so new, so different or such a different way of looking at things that it makes it worth the trip. As usual, we will be posting live updates throughout the day and then placing summaries here and over on Information Week.