Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The importance of new school lunchboxes

Remember when you were a kid and one of the most important decisions affecting your life was what lunch box you were going to carry when school started in September? I’m talking about real lunch boxes here, the pressed steel ones with the plastic handles that held a thermos bottle for cold milk – or if you were on the geeky side like some of us, hot soup. The kind of lunch boxes that are so collectable today.

Remember you couldn’t possibly show up on opening day of school with last year’s model – heaven forbid. And, if you, or more probably your mother, chose the wrong pop star, band, or action hero lunch box the entire success of your school year could be put at risk. It was a momentous decision. The Beatles beat Herman’s Hermits, GI Joe blew away James Bond, Barbie must have out-blonded some other doll, but I have to admit, I didn’t pay attention to girls or their lunchboxes. Back then, to us girls were like Linux to the MSFT legion – weird, inexplicable, and coodie-ridden.

Funny how things don’t really change that much (well not the girl part, that changed pretty dramatically, I mean the lunch box thing). It’s Fall again, so for the storage industry, that means its school lunch box time again. The first day of school is now the first day of Storage Decisions, and every kid on the block has a new lunchbox.

I was so excited to see all those solid state disk lunch boxes – all with (I told you so two years ago) flash inside. Violin seems pretty cool – fast, dense, relatively cheap – and I love that they are co-opting the term, Tier Zero, which I (we) coined a few years ago. I have decided to farm myself out as an industry term coiner for hire. Let me know if you have a challenging concept that needs a catchy term – or better yet a three or four letter acronym. I am really good at creating techno-babble…but I egoistically digress…

Acceleration is another big lunch box theme this year – sorry I just don’t see how this is a product and not a feature. Overtime, all these specialty acceleration appliances converge into layers of value added services delivered on multi-service platforms. I wouldn’t have invested in this stuff myself, but perhaps there is a build and sell model that will work for a few of these startups. Like a Gary and Pacemakers lunchbox– I predict it will look dopey by Christmas vacation when they haven’t had another hit, but could be an awesome collectable by 2028. Ditto encryption – (Freddie and the Dreamers).

Thin provisioning is sort of the Rubberman/Fantastic Four lunchbox – stretches to fit. The problem I have with the idea of faking out the application and underprovisioning capacity is the holy hell to pay if something unexpected happens. I know, I know. Oh, Kirby, you are such a worrier – the statistical probability of the system melting down is negligible. It won’t happen, our algorithms are sound. Well maybe, but trying selling that logic this week at Lehman, AIG, ML, and Bear -- or the families on the London Eye when Rubbie lets the Sliver Surfer get the better of his temper for that matter. I like my bytes to be real bytes.

Cloud storage. Hmmm. I’m foggy on clouds, but didn’t we try this 10 years ago? Is this perhaps the Grateful Dead lunch box? What a long strange road…and all that? Or maybe the lunchbox with the big marijuana leaf on the cover? If our next new generation of storage marketing genii can finally convince enterprise customers to store their data on dirt cheap white box storage in questionably operated remote data centers – when we couldn’t convince them to store data on Symmetric systems in our professionally managed raised floors environments, then I will eat my SNIA founding member card, and my lunch.

Speaking of cafeterias–the food at Storage Decisions still reminds me of Lunch Lady Land.

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