Gary Orenstein on the future of storage (as dictated by VMWare).

Image representing VMware

Image via CrunchBase

Gary Orenstein[1] writes for GigaOm a fascinating article (okay, okay, maybe only fascinating for those of us in the IT field) about VMWare‘s move towards virtualization of the storage arena in a similarly disruptive manner to its virtualization of server processing resources.

It turned my head when I read about VMWare’s release of the Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) along with vSphere 5, though I didn’t catch the irony Gary highlights in VMWare (an EMC owned company which is heavily invested in the storage industry) moving to disrupt the storage industry.[2]

The functionality that VMWare is offering in the Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) isn’t anything new – other companies (e.g. Openfiler, Seanodes, FalconStor, and DataCore[3]) have been offering similar functionality for quite some time…the difference is in the brand awareness surrounding VMWare and the close integration between VMWare’s processing virtualization and now storage virtualization. Additionally, VMWare will be hitting the small/mid-business market where many solutions in thisĀ  arena have had fairly high entry level costs traditionally (e.g. $15k+).

That said, I’m not a huge fan of VMWare (even though I use them). I think their pricing model is out-of-touch with the market and I keep expecting them to lower it. How can they continue to charge so exorbitantly for virtualization when other vendors (including Microsoft) are virtually (or actually) giving it away? I’m also not a huge fan of EMC – my past experience has been that they somehow (as many large companies do) manage to charge high prices for decent products (perhaps on the back of name recognition?). This has been true with EMC’s storage units and with Mozy once that company was acquired by EMC and seems to be true now of VMWare.

I am optimistic that storage virtualization of this sort will move forward…though I am hopeful someone else will step up to the plate, as unless VMWare changes its practices, I don’t want to be paying the VMWare tax for the next few generations[4]

  1. [1]Where do I know this name from? Ahhh. Gary used to be with Gear6 when I launched (unsuccessfully) Informed Networker.
  2. [2]I once considered purchasing an EMC storage unit, but at the time the price was $50k-$60k for 5 TB of storage. Even after they offered to drop the price precipitously I went with Dell and HP direct attached storage for a fraction of the cost…and in spite of the rumors, one can scale direct attached storage fairly easily to 80 TB – 100 TB…at least that is as far as I went…
  3. [3]There are others…I simply can’t recall their names at the moment.
  4. [4]In expedited computing terms, I probably mean 5 years…as iterations occur much more expediently in IT than traditionally.

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