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Infrastructure 3.0 is a good reason not to retire.
I showed them!
That's not really true. What is true is that my intentions were good, but my timing was bad. Handing off Storage Bin was a little like sending the kids to camp--it seemed like a good idea at the time, but as soon as I turned my back, I started missing the buggers.
So while I enjoyed saving the eight minutes I would have otherwise spent writing this column, as well as the huge sense of relief from not having to perform literary magic each month, fate has brought me back to you. I'm glad, really. I missed you, as silly as that sounds. It was a mistake to give up this coveted space because for the first time in a very, very long time, the storage world is about to become red hot--and by that I mean turbulent, chaotic and perhaps even interesting.
We all know I love a volatile, messy market. The world around us is changing rapidly and it isn't about technology. It's about the third era of data: the data generated in a Web 2.x world that's enabling 13-year-olds to yap on MySpace, and a place where GE (and you)
| will be forced to deal with more data, in more formats, for more reasons and with more unknowns than ever before. This is brand-spanking-new stuff that requires brand-spanking-new thinking, and where brand-spanking-new firms and technologies will be able to wreak havoc with zillion-dollar legacy vendors, processes and people. It's Infrastructure 3.0, baby, and the leap may be as intense as when we moved from the Mesozoic (dinosaurs) to the Cenozoic (rugby players) age. At the very least, it will provide me with something to write about.
Think about it this way: Infrastructure 1.0 was born during the Transactional Era, when requirements were tightly controlled and systems were monolithic and bulletproof. Infrastructure 2.0 came about during the Distributed Era, which meant cheaper, smaller versions of the previous generation's systems and solutions, and the addition of file interfaces instead of just block. Now, Infrastructure 3.0 is required for the commercial Internet Era where absurdly scalable, really cheap, self-managed storage is the order of the day.
Speaking of extinction, I'm happy to report that the death of NAS next-gen pioneer Isilon has been somewhat overstated. Isilon did run afoul of Wall Street when it allowed ridiculous IPO expectations to be set and then chased those expectations. After the smoke cleared, however, it turns out that the popular developer of what has been the most successfully packaged clustered "scale-out" (read: Infrastructure 3.0) NAS product by any metric isn't quite dead yet. It continues to acquire customers at a fast clip, and existing customers are gobbling up more of Isilon's stuff every day. The company seems to have weathered a storm brought on mostly by itself and looks no worse for the wear. Now it just has to let its results do the talking--win or lose.
The revolution of evolution is upon us. EqualLogic brought in $1.3-plus billion beans because it saw the past as a sure way to extinction and evolved to change the way we think about block storage. Isilon did the same for file storage. The Digitalzoic era has begun. Let the games begin.
This was first published in March 2008