Meager innovation in storage this year: Sun techie

Sun storage director claims storage innovation actually declined over 2008.

The storage industry this year has witnessed meager innovation if you consider the handful of startups that emerged in this space relative to the beginning of the decade, according to Sun Microsystems storage technical director Gary Francis.

"The amount of innovation in my opinion is actually declining a little bit," said Francis, citing 90 to 100 startups in the years 2000 to 2001, compared to just five in 2008.

While innovation might be sluggish, Francis said he's observed certain trends, for instance, a continuing movement towards server and storage consolidation, and increased interest in data protection and security -- not surprising considering numerous public data breaches suffered by some companies and organizations.

And among upper management, the approach towards IT spending, too, is changing from the traditional focus on capital expenditures to operating expenditures, said Francis. Specifically, things like rising power costs and energy consumption amid other operational issues "have become a major thrust for C-level people thinking about when they acquire storage, where they want to put their focus."

Further compounding the situation is the current economy, which has tightened IT budgets and forced IT managers to do more with less. "In the meantime, storage is growing 40, 50, 60 per cent on an annual basis out there," remarked Francis.

These trends, he continued, are further fuelling a hunger for innovation in the storage space, and "the market is begging for innovation right now and is very ripe for innovation from someone." On that note, Francis said Sun Microsystems is driving innovation through an open storage initiative launched earlier this year and in particular, the 7000 Unified Storage System released in November that is the "first real proof point" of that commitment.

According to Greg Shulz, founder and senior analyst with Stillwater, Minn.-based research firm The Storage IO Group, from Sun Microsystems' perspective, the company is driving innovation through open source simply because it is putting a lot of energy towards open source versus other technologies. But while Sun's attention to open source is admirable, said Shulz, it could be generating a lot of revenue on non-open source storage technologies that customers are still demanding, and it's "something that could perhaps help put a small dent in Sun's financial woes."

Just last month, Sun Microsystems announced it would slash up to 18 per cent of its workforce worldwide and will initiate a restructuring plan to cut costs by about $700-800 million annually.

On the topic of sluggish storage innovation this past year, Shulz disagreed, saying that the rest of the industry is dabbling in both open source and proprietary technologies and there is "tons of innovation" in things like solid state disk, data footprint reduction and clustered and cloud storage, to name some.

That said, while there are certainly new technology and products in storage, Shulz described the hype in this space as "down" while execution and delivery as "up significantly." Shulz added: "It's one thing to talk about an initiative, it's another thing to execute and deliver on it."

At any rate, given tightened IT budgets as a result of the unstable economy, Shulz said those storage innovations that would best benefit IT departments are "anything that stretches their dollar." Among those, he listed a few: data footprint reduction technologies for archiving e-mails, databases and file systems; online data compression; grid and cloud-based storage systems to offload storage to managed service providers.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags sun

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Kathleen Lau

Unknown Publication
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?