Storage dinosaurs evolving too

[Preamble: I am a delegate of Storage Field Day 15 from Mar 7-9, 2018. My expenses, travel and accommodation are paid for by GestaltIT, the organizer and I am not obligated to blog or promote the technologies presented at this event. The content of this blog is of my own opinions and views]

I have been called a dinosaur. We storage networking professionals and storage technologists have been called dinosaurs. It wasn’t offensive or anything like that and I knew it was coming because the writing was on the wall, … or is it?

The cloud and the breakneck pace of all the technologies that came along have made us, the storage networking professionals, look like relics. The storage guys have been pigeonholed into a sunset segment of the IT industry. SAN and NAS, according to the non-practitioners, were no longer relevant. And cloud has clout (pun intended) us out of the park.

I don’t see us that way. I see that the Storage Dinosaurs are evolving as well, and our storage foundational knowledge and experience are more relevant that ever. And the greatest assets that we, the storage networking professionals, have is our deep understanding of data.

A little over a year ago, I changed the term Storage in my universe to Data Services Platform, and here was the blog I wrote. I blogged again just before the year 2018 began.


The foundational architecture I assembled in the picture above was to better reflect the true nature of the storage platforms today. Storage is beyond the hardware, and the infrastructure, and the appliances that dish out NFS, SMB, iSCSI or Fibre Channel. To me, the real power of having storage technology knowledge and experience is transcendent. And I vehemently maintain the fact that no matter where data is, be it transient or permanent, it will always be on a piece of storage medium.

Take for instance the recent transformation of Hitachi Vantara. It is the amalgamation of Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Insight Group and Pentaho. The DNA of Hitachi Data Systems is storage and Pentaho is the business intelligence software suite. The Insight Group was to meet the growing global advances in edge computing and Internet of Things. The outcome of this transformation of Hitachi Vantara is the Lumada platform and ecosystem.

This transformation did not dilute or cause the storage element of HDS to disintegrate. In fact, it has made them even stronger, because the coupling of the 3 elements, storage, IoT and analytics, has made Hitachi Vantara much more formidable and better equipped for the future.

Another strong wave happening right now is that the HPC (High Performance Computing) and the enterprise storage ecosystems are merging. NVMe and the maturing NVMeF (Non-Volatile Memory over Fabric) technologies are driving a new breed of faster applications with low latency and high throughput. Traditional HPC applications such as seismic processing, DNA sequencing, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) are teamed up with newer HPC applications such as deep learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time predictive analytics. A newer generation of inter-connect busses such as OpenCAPI (Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface), Gen-Z and CCIX (Cache Coherence Interconnect Accelerator) are being developed to meet the ultra-high demands of these HPC applications.

NVDIMMs, Storage Class Memory are blurring the boundaries of both the storage mediums and the memory, AND … deep storage understanding is at the heart of this wonderful collision of both the HPC world and the enterprise storage world.

SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) has been on an uptick in the past few years. The number of initiatives, events and partnerships has grown tremendously. SNIA spearheads the NVDIMM development initiatives. The Storage Developer Conference (SDC) curated by SNIA has seen a slew of very impactful papers and presentations, all in advancing storage technologies across many realms of computing.

On my mind, the multi-cloud and serverless/Lambda computing is just as exciting. Going beyond the public clouds, edge computing, fog computing, edge devices in IoT, function-as-a-service (FaaS), AWS Lambda, AWS Fargate, IoC (Inversion of Code) developments are pushing the boundaries of serverless computing. I see the storage knowledge and experience are in great need to advise customers building the next generation of edge computing services. And I am seeking answers in my blog here.

I am here at Storage Field Day 15. I am here to be enlightened by the likes of WekaIO and Hedvig for the questions of persistent storage in distributed systems. Dropbox is on the agenda as well, and I am about to be given a deep dive of Dropbox Magic Pocket on this session. And the Magic Pocket is the block storage layer that Dropbox has built for the multi-exabyte data services and content-based collaboration platform. Again, without sounding the obvious, Storage.

My response to the naysayers? I don’t think storage people with the knowledge and experience is in the sunsetting side of the computer industry. In fact, I think we are in the best time of our professional career.

I would like to use this blog as a clarion call to all storage networking professionals and technologists out there, especially to the peers and comrades in my part of the world. In Malaysia; in South East Asia; in Asia, ARISE! Your time is now; Your time is here. Go forth and multiply! Create more awareness and understanding of how great you are as a storage dinosaur. You are evolving to meet the challenges of the next generation of computing.

It is now 4.30am here in Santa Clara. I leave you with a little thing I drew while being sleepless here.

Storage Dinosaurs? Yeah, and proud of it!

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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 20+ 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 was previously the Chairman of SNIA Malaysia until Dec 2012. As of August 2015, I am returning to NetApp to be the Country Manager of Malaysia & Brunei. Given my present position, I am not obligated to write about my employer and its technology, but I am indeed subjected to Social Media Guidelines of the company. Therefore, I would like to make a disclaimer that what I write is my personal opinion, and mine alone. Therefore, I am responsible for what I say and write and this statement indemnify my employer from any damages.

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