How is a zebra different from a basketball hoop?

7233868808_75f70d0738_kThree months ago, I wrote about how quickly the storage industry was changing.  I commented on how the fundamental concepts you need to know to be in a conversation about storage are really different than they were just 3 or 5 years ago.

Last week I attended BriForum (great event focused on virtual desktop technology) and was reminded again of how quickly things change.  It came in the form of questions from prospects who came by our tradeshow booth.

Earlier in the year, the questions we got the most were:

“So what do you guys do?”

“Oh, so you’re like ABC?”

Except it’s like we’re selling zebras and ABC is basketball hoops.  Prospects had no sense of our part of the industry and a large part of our interaction with them was around education.

Now – just a few months later – it’s:

“What makes you different from XYZ?”

“Oh, so you’re like ABC?”

It’s a good sign for us, because now ABC is horses.  We’re selling zebras, and someone’s saying, “oh, I know what zebras are, they’re like horses, right?”  XYZ is cows.  We’re being asked how zebras are different from cows.

The technologies we’re being compared to are in our space.  This is good news.  

It means we’re in a maturing part of the industry, one that is sussing out who the players are, and what the right technical solutions are.  A part of the industry that is determining how we talk about value and what category our solutions fall into.  It means our customers are getting better educated before they find us.  A lot of things make Infinio different from our competitors and now that can be a larger part of our discussions with customers.

It’s been really interesting to actually see this happen; previously I had always sold and marketed technologies that were already part of existing industries.  It’s also been challenging to keep up with the marketing as the industry matures.  We have to quickly shift from “this is what server-side caching is” to “this is why our technology is better.”

I’m holding on for the ride.

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