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You say you want a revolution
What about evolution? The storage world turns on events big and small, and it's turning faster than ever.
There's only one defined constant--time. It moves too fast for me now, but too slow for my ninth grader. With time, everything changes. We don't even see most changes happening unless they're an "event." And it's easy to miss even a huge change if it takes long enough to happen. That's what's happening in storage right now.
Events force revolutions. The intellectual rationale for securing data isn't new, but current events force dramatic public changes. Revolutionary change catches both sides of our world by surprise: vendors who aren't ready to participate in the new world order, and IT buyers who aren't educated about the issues and resolutions of that new order. Market revolution driven by events allows new vendors to grab a slice of the business and ride to unimaginable heights. Almost every successful organization can point back to an event, or an unforeseen break created by an event, that led to its opportunity to play.
IBM was founded by creating the event, the ability to use business machines to automate previously manual tasks. Its success meant that buyers--the businesses that wanted the machines to make their operations more competitive and profitable--created the next series of opportunities, like software, for example.
Most change happens
Which gets me to my long belated point: What revolutionary and evolutionary changes are occurring now that have enabled so many "upstart" storage players to suddenly become relevant business entities? At no time in the last 40-plus years in this business has there ever been a more vibrant, legitimate "alternative" market challenging the incumbent big guys. There are now billions of dollars being spent by millions of folks on IT technologies and services provided by companies that most people have never heard of. That's never happened before.
Some are taking advantage of revolutions--security/privacy breaches have legislatures scurrying to write new laws and the specter of regulatory compliance has been a blessing to many, but most are riding evolution. The nature of data has changed; it's no longer transactional. Our industry was built on transactional data being the only thing that mattered, but that ship--while still very much afloat--is just a small craft on a very big sea. Not seeing it coming means incumbent power brokers tend to adapt what they have and force it into the new world order. That might work for a while, but eventually it goes the way of the dodo.
Evolution and time have presented us with the next set of problems to be addressed, which has forced reluctant buyers to look beyond the easy way into the new world. What they're finding is a lot of cool companies and cooler products that have been built from the ground up to face the problems of today in the new world order, and that "let them eat cake" attitudes from incumbents may lead to another historical beheading. Stay tuned.
This was first published in March 2007