In the past few years the IT publishing industry has been in a dramatic contraction. Just five short years ago there were at least half a dozen magazines and websites that supported labs and published testing based reviews. I was lucky enough to have been associated with some of the best; PC Magazine in the 80s, Network World in the 90s and Network Computing since around 1998. An IT professional looking to add a new technology like disk-to-disk-to tape backup or an iSCSI SAN could find objective test results and reviews to help him make a decision.
When the established vendors started pushing FUD like “1GB iSCSI isn’t fast enough to run Exchange” or “You need iSCSI HBAs to get decent performance”, the IT guy could show his manager results of tests in my Network Computing lab that showed the truth.
With publications like Infoworld going web only and Network Computing being folded into InformationWeek, there are now just a trickle of reviews of servers, storage devices and the tools to manage them. As a result, user organizations no longer have the information they need to make informed decisions and vendors, especially those with innovative products or unique value propositions, don’t have the ammunition they need to convince users their products are a good fit for their needs.
It’s not surprising that as advertising revenues fell; reviews of complex data center products were one of the first things to go. The truth is testing the equipment and tools we focus on is expensive. Enthusiast sites like Tom’s Hardware do a good job at testing storage components but all they need to run a disk drive or SSD through its paces is a single server.
To run a midrange disk array or deduplicating backup system through its paces takes several servers, gigabit, or 10 gigabit, and Fibre Channel networking, terabytes of test data and a staff that understands how these products are used in the real world. Add in several days of testing by highly skilled staff and it ends up a much more expensive way to fill a magazine page than a news story or case study.
Network Computing alone used to support labs in Syracuse, Green Bay and Purchase, NY.
To add insult to injury, poor server and storage managers are caught in the middle of the biggest paradigm shift in computing in at least a decade. With new and rapidly maturing technologies including server virtualization, SSDs and converged data center networking via 10Gbps Ethernet with or without FCoE changing the data center landscape, they’re being asked to do more with less.
I created DeepStorage.net to supply the objective analysis, testing and reviews that IT professionals need to help them know how to implement these new technologies, while helping vendors of innovative products get their message out into the marketplace.
Of course, I’m hoping to make a small profit as well.