Bill Roth, Ulitzer Editor-at-Large

Bill Roth

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Another year end is upon us, and this always is a good time to look back on the past year, as well as look head to the year to come.

Here are my predictions for 2011, along with my score of how I did with my predictions from last year.

10. OpenStorage:    A+

In April of 2011, the Register wrote an article suggesting that we may be the fastest growing storage company ever.  Since then, our growth has accelerated.

What’s more is that companies from VMware to Cisco and Dell now are more actively supporting NexentaStor in the field.

You can read the 451 Group’s eye opening report on the momentum on display at the recent OpenStorage Summithere.

9. Disaster Recovery for the masses:   C

DR for the masses is starting thanks in large part to companies like Hosting.com that allow you to replicate your VMware VMs to their service.  VDI, see below, needs to happen for DR to really proliferate. However it is coming.

Meanwhile, though, clouds themselves came under scrutiny in 2011; it turns out that Amazon and other clouds are not quite as good as a top enterprise IT organization at keeping the data safe.  DR for the masses is on the way, but not here yet.   With that in mind, I’ll give myself a C.

8. BRICs:   B

Certainly Russia, India, and China have shifted towards OpenStorage solutions.  I project that our market share in India will shortly be in the top 5, well beyond our levels in North America.  We’re making investments in China as well, including our recently announced plans to partner with Cloud Valley.

On the whole, though, I’d give myself a B as we could have done even more in 2011. My prediction is that this will be more of a story for 2012 and 2013.

7. Server channel selling storage:   A+

It turns out that there are thousands of server resellers that are capable of selling servers, virtualization, storage, and more to create solid, total solutions for their customers.  Storage is an expensive part of that equation and, therefore, an open solution that runs on their hardware can be quite attractive to these VARs. I predict that we will see more and more of this going forward. The velocity of the server channel selling storage will increase in 2012.

6. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI):  C

Today, VDI remains a niche application.  If you already use XenApp to access major enterprise applications remotely, then XenDesktop is a great fit, especially as Citrix will make it worth your while.  However, while we have major hosting providers like VESK, and health care customers like Delano Medical as customers, we have not seen a take-off in VDI deployments.  The top reason, ironically enough, is storage.

All this changes in 2012.  I predict that NexentaVDI fundamentally fixes the value proposition of VDI in a VMware environment.

Which is great; however, VDI in 2011 under-performed.  So I’ll give myself a C on this one as well.

5. Developers, developers, developers, and the cloud:   A

Microsoft’s Steve Balmer had it right when he shouted “Developers, Developer, Developer, Developers. (Seehttp://youtu.be/t6ZarKIKpSA for a laugh). Balmer, Gates, and Co. realized that the only way to have a successful platform is to have apps on it. The only way to get apps on your platform is for developers to write them. Ergo, Developers = Success. 2011 was a year of burgeoning platforms, from EC2 to companies like EngineYard and Heroku. There still is a lot of competition for winning the hearts and minds of developers, and I predict we’ll see some convergence in 2012 as the number of successful programming models consolidates.

I’ll give myself an A for this one.

4. Silent data corruption gets louder

Silent data correction, or bit rot, is one of the under reported problems of the storage industry. The disk manufacturers have done a great job at building cheap disks that are reliable. But as the amount of storage grows, if failure rates are constant as a function of storage size, then failures will go up. I predict we’ll start reading stories in the press about massive efforts to recover data lost to silent corruption.

While we had high profile cloud failures from Amazon and others, I did not see the press become aware of the fundamental importance of data corruption that passes unchecked through most of today’s storage systems..  I’ll give myself a C on this as I know that it is increasing in importance and I cannot control the press.

We’ll have more to say on this in the near future.

3. Hardware commoditization:    A++

In a response to an article about NexentaStor being used as one of the storage solutions powering the incredibly intensive Hands on Lab at VMworld, EMC confirmed that they run on commodity hardware as well:

“Our hardware is based on commodity x86 as well (on all EMC platforms)”


This quotation is a fundamental tipping point in the storage industry.  For the first time, the premier priced solution is admitting that they are selling commodity gear and massive mark-ups.  Are those mark-ups due to their software or are they due to their lock-in based business models that capture customers through a proprietary approach and then extract as much as possible from them through a high touch sales force with “flexible” pricing.?

Also, this year in my keynote at the OpenStorage Summit, I predicted that we will launch a storage system based on Intel’s Romley chipset next year that will achieve 1 million IOPS in a 2U form factor.  I stand firm behind this prediction.  And I also predict this will further alter the storage landscape.

So, I’ll give myself an A++ for this prediction. The commoditization of hardware is a fundamental trend in storage and, not surprisingly, not one that other storage prediction blogs tend to point out, perhaps because it destroys the premise of today’s storage industry.

2. Storage is the most profitable piece of IT

Despite our best efforts to introduce pricing transparency while eliminating vendor lock-in, and the force of a troubled world economy, the storage industry continued to capture more and more wallet share , with Gartner and Goldman Sachs and other analysts indicating as much as a 12% increase in growth.

1.       Exponential growth in capacity:  A+

Recent reports from Gartner, Forester, IDC, and others have confirmed that the amount of data being stored is growing exponentially.

However, often overlooked is the observation that humans would store even more information and, thereby, be even better at solving problems, were it not for the legacy storage industry.  To take one example, the New York Timesrecently reported that in 2012 it will cost approximately $1,000 to sequence the human genome; it will cost more than that to store each sequenced genome.

In short, as Jason Hoffman, CTO of Joyent, put it in his keynote at the OpenStorage Summit [http://www.nexenta.com/corp/newsflashes/86-2010/938-openstorage-summit-2011], there are a class of problems that cannot be solved with today’s storage industry.

Capacity deployed is increasing exponentially. However the true underlying demand is growing even more quickly.  I’d give myself an A+ for this one.

All in all, 2011 was a great year. OpenStorage continues to gather momentum, bringing us ever closer to making our mission of “Enterprise class storage for everyone” a reality.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year to all.

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Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.