Spent 3 days at fall ’09 SNW. Given the economy my expectations were low.

The good news: it was active. The better news: the pace of innovation across storage is accelerating, despite the economy and the drop in VC funding.

Make that perhaps because of the drop in VC funding. Veterans of prior startups have self-funding and the chops to prototype and market-test without VC “help.”

Fewer vendor staff – more customer interaction
Vendors brought fewer people – a good thing. Too often SNW booths are reunions of industry veterans leaving customers on the outside looking in.

They breakout sessions I saw were near full to SRO. Much content on SSD’s, cloud storage de-duplication, backup/archive and more.

The biggest disappointment was the Cisco UCS presentation. The Cisco NDAs must be dynamite because the public information isn’t.

New companies and products
Dataram was there with their new flash FC caching appliance, the XcelaSAN (pdf). They should’ve been included in the Hot data, smart cache post.

Avere Systems made its first public appearance with the results of their SPEC 2008 NFS benchmark. The six node configuration using 79 disks achieved a record-setting combination of more than 131,000 operations per second throughput with a latency of 1.38 ms overall response time. The other SPEC08 benchmark leaders use 10 times as many disks and sometimes multiple filesystems to achieve competitive results.

Zetta was talking about their new cloud-based NAS platform. The architecture impresses. Starting at $0.25/GB/Month with a highly-redundant platform and open NAS interfaces, they are well-positioned to compete with standard NAS boxes for general purpose file storage.

Simply Continuous is focused on the backup/disaster recovery market and offers a cloud backup to Data Domain dedupe boxes.

In addition, 3 stealth mode companies said hello. We should hear more from them by early next year. And they weren’t all cloud either.

The StorageMojo take
SNIA and ComputerWorld squeezed a lot of cost – the shirts, live music, bags and the like – out of SNW, but none of the value. SNW is still the place to go for the latest in commercial storage information and education.

The Great Recession is forcing many organizations to look beyond what has worked towards what could work. Thanks to the rise of new architectures intelligent storage decisions are rewarded with greater savings and more operational flexibility than at any time in the past.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. No disclosures to make, darn it, but it was nice to be able to drive to SNW this time.