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Storage Cannibals

LUNCHTIME -- Storage virtualization may be progressing, but the switch-based version is clearly a work in progress, thanks to the languid approach of big players.

Take the case of Incipient. This company is upgrading and claims to be doing fairly well among financial services companies. (See Incipient Sticks to Business.) While it still lacks some features, such as support for Brocade switches, the vendor's momentum seems solid, if small.

"I really feel that Incipient has innovated in the virtualization space with more intensity than just about anybody, and they have some extremely loyal and excited users as a result," writes analyst Brad O'Neill of the Taneja Group consultancy in a note to Byte and Switch. But as he sees it, small players won't really take off until they have partnerships with the large switch vendors.

"The challenge [Incipient] have faced, along with every other network-resident virtualization vendor, is that they are acting on a stage dominated by large strategic vendors who have little interest in letting disruptive third party technologies take over control of their intelligent switching platforms," O'Neill maintains. "The smaller players like Incipient can create thought leadership, but they need the IBMs, Ciscos, EMCs and Brocades of the world to embrace that vision in order to achieve pervasive market impact."

A big culprit here is EMC, whose Invista is largely invisible in publicized deployments.

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