There were some important movements in the storage world last week. Hewlett Packard (HP) and IBM swapped storage APIs, and Cisco bought a networking storage company for $2.5bn. These two events will have a major impact on the market.
Following the Bluefin announcement earlier this year, the HP/IBM deal marks a seismic shift in the market. IBM is even hinting that it will one day exchange storage APIs with EMC. And HP has started to talk to Hitachi Data Systems about swapping APIs.
What this tells us is that storage is a fast maturing market. And we know that in mature markets it is the big brands that always win.
The big players are looking to the channel to help them drive down into the market. So is it 'Good night Vienna' for smaller manufacturers?
New entrants can do well if their technology is unique and well marketed; Brocade is a good example. But there will be many casualties strewn across the battlefield when the smoke clears.
The fact is that when a behemoth the size of Cisco directs its gaze towards a particular market the sensible thing to do is to ship out.
John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco, had been hinting for a long time that storage is the next target for the acquisitive networking giant. Indeed, it is becoming harder to find any mention of storage without the word 'network' close to hand.
Cisco will now go all-guns-blazing through the channel, telling resellers to hitch their wagons to the networking/storage train. 'We've given you the pipes through which the data flows, now use our reservoir to store it,' will be the refrain.
This should spur the other storage vendors to provide even greater channel commitment. But the big companies will always want to talk directly to other big companies and some vendors have a long way to go to convince the channel that their enticements are not just an arachnid invitation into the parlour.
Demand is a fact of life. Storage prices continue to fall while the amount of data continues to expand, and even the most tight-fisted anti-IT chief financial officer knows that the data has to sit somewhere and be accessible.
For many, storage was the safe route through the darkness that has blanketed the IT industry for the past two years. However, what may have seemed at one time to be an oasis in the desert will for many turn out to be a mirage, and a lot of one-trick camels will bite the dust.
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