From the past to the future

2019 beckons. The year 2018 is coming to a close and I look upon what I blogged in the past years to reflect what is the future.

The evolution of the Data Services Platform

Late 2017, I blogged about the Data Services Platform. Storage is no longer the storage infrastructure we know but has evolved to a platform where a plethora of data services are served. The changing face of storage is continually evolving as the IT industry changes. I take this opportunity to reflect what I wrote since I started blogging years ago, and look at the articles that are shaping up the landscape today and also some duds.

Some good ones …

One of the most memorable ones is about memory cloud. I wrote the article when Dell acquired a small company by the name of RNA Networks. I vividly recalled what was going through my mind when I wrote the blog. With the SAN, NAS and DAS, and even FAN (File Area Network) happening during that period, the first thing was the System Area Network, the original objective Infiniband and RDMA. I believed the final pool of where storage will be is the memory, hence I called it the “The Last Bastion – Memory“. RNA’s technology became part of Dell Fluid Architecture.

True enough, the present technology of Storage Class Memory and SNIA’s NVDIMM are along the memory cloud I espoused years ago.

What about Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)? It wasn’t a compelling enough technology for me when it came into the game. Reduced port and cable counts, and reduced power consumption were what the FCoE folks were pitching, but the cost of putting in the FC switches, the HBAs were just too great as an investment. In the end, we could see the cracks of the FCoE story, and I wrote the pre-mature eulogy of FCoE in my 2012 blog. I got some unsavoury comments writing that blog back then, but fast forward to the present, FCoE isn’t a force anymore.

Weeks ago, Amazon Web Services (AWS) just became a hybrid cloud service provider/vendor with the Outposts announcement. It didn’t surprise me but it may have shook the traditional systems integrators. I took the stance 2 years ago when AWS partnered with VMware and juxtaposed it to the philosophical quote in the 1993 Jurassic Park movie – “Life will not be contained, … Life finds a way“.

But the challenges of the systems integrators are aplenty. Without deep pockets and resources, it is hard to challenge AWS, and Azure and on the local front, Alibaba Cloud. Partnering with any or several of these cloud providers is a matter of survival, but eventually the control and the value the systems integrators have built will wane. Customers will want a ubiquitous computing and infrastructure services that is cost effective and simple. I wrote this piece back in 2011 about Cloud Computing loosening the structure, the value and the control of the systems integrators. Here in Malaysia, I see this happening in front of my own eyes. And systems integrators are not innovative enough to bring more value and expertise to the game.

Some duds …

I was also wrong with some views as well.

I was wrong about the hyperconverged systems. I was wrong about Nutanix because I thought the HCI market, back in 2015 would not last. I wrote this piece right after the Gartner Magic Quadrant report was released August 2015. To my surprise, the HCI market bloomed and bloomed, and today, the momentum of the HCI market remains strong with plenty of fuel to last a few more years.

I was wrong about Falconstor too. 2 months after their CEO committed suicide, I was invited to a local Falconstor event. I was impressed and I wrote a nice blog for them. They peaked that year and the following year too, but they never recovered after that. They had several CEOs changed, and at this moment, their numbers aren’t great. And a couple of founders started Prophetstor and the Malaysia Falconstor leadership jumped ship as well. I did a blog for Prophetstor as well.

NetApp didn’t buy Commvault. I was wrong about that but those 2 companies were perennially linked to acquisition during those years. Today both are doing extremely well, and I have attended Commvault GO conference twice in the lat 2 years. My experience of the last GO conference was blogged here.

What is in store for 2019?

I am not a soothsayer but certain technology and industry trends are obvious. But history has taught us much to envision the future.

I am a believer of the IT pendulum. NAS and SAN have been put to the test with scale-out architectures based on DAS. Nutanix espoused the “NO SAN” campaign some years ago. Early on, there was much chatter that NVMe would bring NAS and SAN to their knees. But NVMeF (NVMe over Fabric) is equalizing the playing field, and SAN, with NVMeFC or FC-NVMe (NVMe over Fibre Channel) is making a strong comeback with shared storage. NVMeTCP (NVMe over TCP) was announced just months ago, likely to give the iSCSI protocol a boost.

I am also a believer that the specialized appliance will rise. We are beginning to see the evolution of AI-focused appliances where both the high performance infrastructure is coupled with the workflow engines of AI. I can’t say I am right or wrong here, but the trends are certainly shoring up.

The IT pendulum swings to the left; it swings to the right; it centres again!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 25+ years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because that is my area of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to *know the facts*, and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and as of October 2013, I have been appointed as SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently run a small system integration and consulting company focusing on storage and cloud solutions, with occasional consulting work on high performance computing (HPC).

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