The Cube’s Dave Vellante and Stu Miniman sat down with Randy Kerns, Senior Strategist, Evaluator Group, a Colorado-based IT analyst firm that specializes in storage and information management at this year’s Dell Storage Forum. Kerns and The Cube discussed Dell’s evolution in the storage market, the company’s strategy for the future and the state of the market. The complete video of the interview is available after the article.
The conversation began a discussion of Dell’s transition from PC maker to enterprise storage player. According to Kerns, Dell has progressed in the storage market very quickly. Dell advanced to a point that took many other vendors 20-30 years to achieve. Dell has made a significant investment acquiring companies like EqualLogic and Compellent and hiring large numbers of new staff to move the business forward. Vellante agreed saying, unlike many other traditional server vendors, when Dell made the decision to extend its business into storage, they acted very forcefully and demonstrated their commitment to storage.
Vellante and Kerns continued by analyzing the Dell’s vision for storage. Kern said Dell’s vision is based on three capabilities:
- distribution of solid state technology throughout servers to move information to services faster and using software to manage data coherency
- supporting data recovery in running application by creating snapshots that include all the data applications need whether its stored locally on the storage device or in cache memory
- making the storage systems embedded software an application that runs on a virtual machine
Kerns continued that the move to virtualize storage might take time for the market to embrace since storage is now so tightly associated with physical devices. Kerns noted the approach does enable better scalability, eliminates the wait time to receive and setup new hardware and moves storage closer to the application something many customers will embrace once they become comfortable with the technology. He continued, even if some customers accept the approach, they will still be lags in implementation because have to allocate time and resources to move to the new solution.
Vellante then questioned Kerns about the contradiction between vendor marketing and the actual state of adoption by customers. Messages from vendors like Dell tend to focus on the latest advances, but most of the market is still in the process of optimizing their implementation of older technologies like data compression and deduplication. Kerns agreed saying the adoption rate for newer technologies is still very low in his observation; most companies don’t have time or resources to dedicate to piloting and implementing new technologies unless there is going to be a big return on the investment.
The interview concluded with a high-level analysis of how the storage market is maturing. Large companies are no longer the major innovators. Startups and smaller companies are now responsible for a significant portion of new technology. Once a new storage solution is developed, it’s market leaders acquire it and incorporate it into their portfolio. According to Kerns, this is a shift, but it is a complete deviation. Smaller, newer companies tend to be more nimble, but larger companies have the capital and sales organizations to deliver solutions to a broad market. This balance has always existed, but it’s more apparent now that the market is more consolidated.
See additional comments and details by watching the entire interview.