July 21, 2014
For those of you who know me, you are well aware that I am no stranger to the, shall we say, bold statement. Although some of you may feel that a few of my assertions have been promulgated purely for “shock value”, I can only say that my words reflect what I believe, and I think that most of the time things are better said then left unsaid. Having now providing you with the method behind my sometimes “bomb throwing madness”, I have to say that there seems to be an uptick in the apocalyptic prognostication business lately. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Vinod Khosla’s vision for the humanity free data center, and just yesterday I happened upon an article in which Ash Ashutosh, CEO of Actifio, predicted that “the twin effects of falling hardware prices and new inventions that lower the demand for storage space will have a series of disruptive effects that could devastate both companies and careers in the data center industry”. Wow, don’t sugarcoat it Ash, give it to them straight. If this is the case, can boiling seas be far behind?
Folks, before large portions of us start jumping out of buildings, or contemplating new careers as coffee baristas, let’s all step back and view Mr. Ashutosh’s predication for what it is—one heck of a nice bit of marketing. First let’s examine the source of the prediction. Actiflio, Mr. Ashutosh’s new company, just happens to be in the storage business and bills itself as having developed a new methodology that eliminates the wastefulness of old storage techniques. For those of you paying attention, this probably helps explain why his “brave new world” is centered on storage and not ARM chipsets for example—although there is still time for those folks to come up with their own dogs and cats living together prediction.
For those of you in the storage business who Mr. Ashutosh warns could soon become innovation road kill in the wake of this new seismic shift in technology, you may want to keep your resume updated—it’s always a good practice—but I don’t think you need to start reaching out to all your Linked In contacts right now. In his assertion that the hardware prices will continue to fall and new innovations in storage will change the marketplace Mr. Ashutosh is absolutely correct, but haven’t we seen this all before? Pick any technological industry and you’ll find that hardware prices inevitably fall, and I defy you to find a business where innovation hasn’t changed the nature of their operations. Therefore isn’t this prediction really more of a statement of the blatantly obvious? As any student of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) factor understands, even the most benign observation can become a powerful motivator when delivered with the right amount of urgency within an “expert” opinion. Does this mean that Mr. Ashutosh doesn’t know what he’s talking about? No, he certainly does, but what it really means is that he knows how to generate good PR for his fledgling venture. Well played Ash. Well played.
So where does this recent spate of radical predictions leave us as an industry? Pretty well off I’d say. While some may quibble with the delivery of folks like Misters Khosla and Ashbutosh and okay, even me (sometimes), it’s obvious that the vibrancy in the data center industry that will lead to a variety of changes. New companies will emerge on the basis of their innovations, and we will say goodbye to some old friends, but this is the natural evolution of any industry. This environment of continual innovation is both exciting, and a little frightening since none of us are going to be able to rest on our laurels. The next few years will be very interesting for all of us, and while we are seeking to enhance and improve our offerings, as Mr. Ashbutosh has demonstrated, we all might want to buy a copy of Marketing for Dummies while we’re at it.