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The Lost Boys - Where has the storage gone?

March 22, 2016by Gerry Fleming

The storage giants are turning their ships to remain agile for their market.

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Lost Boys

In the Fortune article by Jonathan Varian, Declining Data Storage Market Hurts EMC, Dell, and IBM, it is interesting to see the storage giants trying to turn the ship and be agile to maintain their markets.

Growing up with the storage business, it was only a matter of time before Moore’s law became obsolete. Server processors became exponentially faster with more cores while memory footprints became extremely dense. Then Flash came along…the hardware component that took its time towards general adoption but has made a huge impact. Today we have all flash arrays that use little power with 100,000+ IOPs.

Over the last two decades as a manufacturer, the best thing about selling storage was your customer would always be back. Whether it is for more capacity or performance, you could count on a return visit. Every successful business strives to build a recurring model and this was the genius behind the bigs; EMC, Dell, HP, NetApp and IBM. They knew businesses would be consuming at a predictable rate. But times are changing - rapidly - the boys are struggling.

Why the decrease in demand? Density has increased, performance has increased, price per IOP has gone down, virtualization is prolific, hyper-convergence is a reality, and lastly…migration of workloads and associated data stores to the cloud: Amazon, Azure, Google and Salesforce to name a few.

And the decline is about to accelerate with enterprise DevOps adoption. Further reduction of storage and virtualization software, and a focus on decreasing technical debt and increasing the speed of application development and deployment are key drivers. With new technologies that allow storage to be configured and deployed at application runtime (developer defined infrastructure) we can further reduce cost and enable a new IT supply chain optimized for speed. I believe Moore’s law can also predict the rapid decline of technology companies; not just growth and speed advances. It will be an interesting few years as the lost boys attempt to change their business models. Not to thrive, but to survive.

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