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CAS Conundrum

How do you define "sticky technology?" It's a fashionable term being bandied about by purveyors of content addressable storage (CAS) products, but what is it?

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I'll give you a hint: One of its many synonyms is "lock-in." Once you place data that you need to retain for a protracted length of time into one of these sticky CAS systems, the vendors have usually seen to it that you will never be able to buy anyone else's storage but theirs.

If you're OK with that -- go read another column or article on this site. If you want to avoid vendor lock-in that limits your choices and perpetuates insane costs by constraining your ability to take advantage of lower-cost, best-of-breed alternatives, then stay with me.

The "sticky" CAS strategy was pioneered by EMC, always the innovator, with its Centera platform. A couple years ago, they acquired the assets of a small Belgian firm, FilePool, and embedded the technology right onto a hardware controller. Wedding the controller to some commodity disk, they jacked up the price of both and contextualized the resulting "solution," which was unabashedly sticky, as "long-term retention and compliance in a box." They sold the heck out of it, creating a new market niche in an increasingly bland and undifferentiated storage landscape.

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