SNW, acronyms and the evolution of the storage industry

I just returned from the spring 2013 Storage Networking World conference (SNW), and I was amazed at how much smaller the conference is now compared to just a few years ago. The vendor booth areas were especially scaled back. The good news is the speakers were all great, and the content was stimulating and thought-provoking as usual, which is important since the storage industry is evolving faster than many other areas of information technology.

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With it being a smaller show, one booth that stood out for me was the great Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) booth. The folks from SNIA had the latest SNIA storage dictionary on display and available for free, so I had to grab one.

What struck me immediately as I picked it up was how much thicker the 2013 edition was from the original dictionary I used as a reference when I first wrote “Storage Area Networks for Dummies” back in 2003. As I remember, the first edition was fairly thin. The new one has more than three hundred pages of acronyms that all of us storage geeks must know off the top of our heads or you could end up sounding un-informed when conversing with other highly trained storage professionals, or clients.  If you don’t have the lingo down, you start to fall behind fast, and become less “groovy” and “hip” (see what I mean!).

It’s sometimes quite amusing to listen to two storage geeks have a conversation today.  Imagine overhearing this:

Hey Jimmy, did you attend the SNW talk on VN2VN adoption and how it will make FCoE much more cost-effective and easier to deploy? Yup, the T11 intends to support FIP snooping according to the FC-BB-5 and 6 standards. You can even implement dual rail deployments, and it works with pNFS too.

You understood all that right? While I made up that exact scenario, I am not making up the use of that vocabulary. The terms here were from an actual SNIA session on storage deployments for virtual N-Port to virtual N-port (VN2VN) with Fibre channel over Ethernet (FCoE). Acronyms make me crazy, and it seems every vendor wants to create a new one just to be cool and feel like they are driving thought leadership.

There is a section in “Storage Area Network for Dummies” called Acronym Hell, which includes most of the important acronyms in use during 2003. It was about five or six pages. When I updated the book in 2008 for the second edition, I needed to add a couple more pages.  The one being displayed at the SNW conference has 306 pages of terms you need to understand as a storage professional!

I used to tell my wife that I should have been a brain surgeon, as a brain surgeon does not need to know as much as the typical IT guy. There is never any version 2.0 of the brain to relearn. Although there are new insights and understandings into the brain’s inner workings, the actual hardware and internal nerve network are pretty much static.

Oh, there was one other thing I noticed and wanted to mention about the SNIA directory. The term DASD is not even listed anymore.  Direct access storage devices (DASD) was the term used by every IBM Mainframer when talking about disk drives. I know a lot of folks who still use the term today. It’s a shame not to at least keep the term DASD listed if not just for history’s sake. Perhaps someone at SNIA is reading this. If so, please add the term DASD back into the dictionary. I think it’s important that we stay true to how this industry started and acknowledge all the hard work and achievements of the thousands of smart people who got us here.

If you were at SNW, I’m sure you learned a lot. Let me know what stood out for you. If you missed it, there is always the chance to get to the SNW Fall in Vegas. It’ll be worth the trip.

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