Every silver lining has a cloud
As Storage Networking World’s go this was quiet. It is always good to get together with industry colleagues. And to be able to look executives in the eye when I asked them hard questions.

Everybody is antsy about the economy. With the IPO market shut down and the VC’s pulling back, now is not the time to be an undercapitalized or overspending startup. Horde cash and market wisely.

It is also not a good time to be flogging the Same Old, Same Old overpriced kit. With layoff rates rising fast and American underemployment at its highest level in 15 years “change” is in the air.

IT pros should be asking themselves “am I part of the solution, or part of the problem?” Because the gimlet-eyed finance guys are looking at you and asking the same thing.

Good news
The good news: there are options today that weren’t available during the dot-bomb meltdown.

The bad news: you’ll have to do some homework and talk to some new vendors to figure out what these companies can do for you.

StorageMojo’s favorite companies at SNW

  • Hifn I have had a hard time getting a handle on this company – starting with pronouncing the name – but I’ve got it now: a storage network appliance that encrypts, compresses and, in a newly announced feature, de-duplicates. They don’t sell direct to end-users but maybe your integrator or SAN vendor resells them.
  • Xiotech CEO Casey Powell announced in double digit quarter over quarter growth figures due to the success of their Integrated Storage Element product. ISE is a game changer for the storage industry, but Xiotech needs to do a better job of articulating the benefits to non-IT execs.
  • Storewize offers an appliance that sits between clients and file servers. It compresses and deduplicates data before it gets to the filer. Not only does it stretch storage capacity but it also improves filer performance by reducing bandwidth requirements. Works at GigE wirespeed.
  • Permabit has been shipping their cluster-based Enterprise Archive for two quarters. Permabit’s CTO, Jered Floyd, has a blog with a great post on why – among other things – it is time to stop talking about content-addressable storage (CAS).

However, my favorite this SNW is Axxana (see Axxana fixes the speed of light). They are a game-changer for high-end disaster protection. Too bad you can’t buy them today.

The StorageMojo take
Compared to the dot-bomb fiasco, storage companies are in better shape today. 8 years ago over-funded startups were buying big Symms and E10000s by the truckload. When the music stopped a lot of new kit was selling on Ebay for pennies on the dollar.

Endemic over-buying is not today’s problem. As the world-wide deleveraging continues the push to do more for less will accelerate.

Somebody is going to have to unravel the underlying value of all those toxic credit default swaps and securitized mortgages. That will take a lot of data storage.

The industry will take a hit, no doubt. But you won’t see the kind of dot-bomb u-turn that saw EMC sales drop several billion in one year.

The world’s financial industry, whose growth has exceeded worldwide GDP growth for the last 30 years, is in for a long spell of below average growth. Health care looks like a winner though.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.