The seasonality of product announcements

Randy Kerns

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the Evaluator Group
Randy Kerns is a partner at the Evaluator Group and is responsible for storage area networks (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS) analysis and education as well as company and product strategies. He has over twenty-eight years storage product development, including work for IBM, Fujitsu, Vice President of Engineering at the Array Technology subsidiary of Tandem Computers and Director of Engineering for Enterprise Disk at Storage Technology Corporation.

The months of June and July do not see a very large number of product announcements. Strange as it may seem, product announcements are somewhat seasonal. The summer months of June, July and August are when many people are on vacations. An interesting statistic that I heard on the radio, therefore it must be true, is that at any one time during those months approximately 1 in 10 workers is on vacation.

Indeed, vacations in Europe are typically a month long during those summer months. That leads to not having the audience and even the focus for a product announcement that a vendor would like to have. Consequently, many product announcements may be earlier (late May or the beginning of June) or later (mid August and onwards) to get more attention. This isn't always true but in general the trends follow this thinking. Seasonality also includes the major holiday season. Rarely are major announcements done between Thanksgiving and New Year's due to the lack of concentrated attention.

There is also a need to keep products and solutions in front of customers so they will think of them during the evaluation process. Many times we see quarterly announcements on products with a high variability of significance. That is not necessarily a negative. One barometer of a vendor's commitment to a product or technology is the frequency of ongoing development that results in announcements.

Timing for announcing products that are included as components in larger solutions operate on a slightly shifted schedule. The major OEMs (vendors that put the larger solutions together) will have their own qualification period and the component announcements must allow them time to do the testing and integration in order to meeting their prime periods for product offerings. An example would be a low-port count switch that was to be incorporated into a "SAN in a box" complete solution. The qualification period would necessitate that it be announced with enough lead time to be part of the solution offered.

As we move into August, we can expect the frequency of product announcements to continue to increase each successive month until November. The storage networking world sees a high number of products announced coincide with Storage Networking World (the fall event is at the end of October) to get the maximum publicity and still have the opportune timing for customer purchase and attention. The coordination with specific industry shows and announcements is true for many technology areas.

We spend a great deal of time analyzing announcements for products and how they fit into a vendor's overall storage strategy. It would be convenient if they were spread out evenly but that's not the way it works. Competition is healthy for customers and the industry. The announcements are an indicator of what direction individual vendors are headed which needs to be considered in choosing a vendor's product.

This was first published in July 2003

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