When I started in the industry, it was in data protection. Except back then, we called it “backup.” I quickly learned that my ability to hold a conversation in the domain was predicated on my understanding some fundamental technological concepts.
For example, I had to understand multiplexing, shoe-shining, grandfather/father/son tape rotation, what it mean that Exchange didn’t really quiesce, and what a backup window was.
Over time, being able to talk about backup meant knowing a different core set of concepts. Today, the category would be called “data protection,” and you’d have to know about snapshots, backup-to-disk, deduplication, and offsite replication, for starters.
When I was at Dell, I transitioned from being a sales engineer to being a storage specialist. Suddenly, I had to learn the fundamental storage concepts – and quickly. At the time, they were (roughly): RAID, more disks means more IOPS, disk contention, storage virtualization, usable space, and automated tiering.
This stuff is barely relevant in storage anymore. Or, maybe it’s more like the information has commoditized. It’s taken for granted now that we know which RAID types are appropriate for what workloads; that’s no longer a consultative value-add that a vendor can provide. You get into a discussion with someone and mention some of this, and it’s so basic it destroys credibility.
And that happens incredibly quickly. Less than a year ago, it was still interesting to talk about storage performance and storage capacity being resources that should be managed separately, now that is not considered “thought leadership,” it’s internalized into the collective consciousness of the industry.
So what are the fundamental concepts now?
Content-based storage, I think. Server-side cache and all-flash arrays. Distributed scale-out systems, object storage, variable-block deduplication. Software-defined anything. Converged systems. I bumped into two other products this week (in addition to my own) that use are content-addressable with a consistent hash.
As a childhood hero of mine said, “Life moves pretty fast….”