August 10, 2009 – For a couple years now the industry has been debating how Storage Networking World (SNW) can regain some of its former glory and relevance. Due in part to the fact that physical trade shows have been dwindling in face of the macro economic climate and slump in IT spending, exhibitors have been questioning the ROI of shows such as SNW. And they haven’t been pleased with the quantity and quality of end-user attendees either.
For some time I’ve been advocating one change for SNW: Actively pursue involvement from the channel (e.g., distributors, VARs and integrators). The design of the show, with the combination of fairly technical sessions and vendor exhibits, is geared more to the needs of the channel than it is for end users anyway. And most storage hardware/software goes through the channel.
I recently chatted with Mike Alvarado, an independent IT consultant and a former member of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Board of Directors. (SNIA is a co-organizer, with Computerworld, of SNW.) Mike shares my opinion that SNW should reinvent itself with a focus on the channel.
Here’s Mike’s take:
Moving Beyond SNW
Storage Networking World (SNW) developed in a time that desperately called for better vendor cooperation to reduce inhibitors to adopting network storage.
It is time to declare victory and move on to the next important task.
What is behind my conviction? First, the storage networking channel is very large and growing; it deserves its own dedicated venue.
Second, the emphasis at SNW on end users has detracted from giving solution implementers the dedicated focus and support they need to succeed. Vendors may do this for their own channel partners, but SNIA is still the only forum for cross-vendor and cross-reseller/integrator interaction, collaboration and validation.
Third, end users would be more confident in storage networking technology with even more visible cooperation and coordination between these two parties (vendors and the channel). End users may still choose to attend the successor show but the focus should always remain on the work between resellers/ integrators and their vendors.
Resellers and integrators are a vital network storage industry segment. I have seen many great conversations take place between vendors and these partners at different SNWs; those exchanges represent opportunity to drive great value for our industry. I believe if SNW focused on optimizing the interaction between vendors and resellers/integrators, it would pay large dividends. Calling the show something else or founding a new show with different sponsorship would be needed, but whatever it takes the sooner this happens the better.
Evolutionary success is based on successful adaptation to new circumstances. It is time to move forward as an industry once again.
--Mike Alvarado, IT consultant and former member of the SNIA Board of Directors.