IBM's exec sees 'tidal wave of data' coming

Andrew Monshaw, general manager of IBM's Storage Systems and Technology Group for the past year, spoke with Computerworld Wednesday about a variety of storage issues. He said he sees no end in sight for tape storage because of its value proposition, feels that virtualization is king and is still unsure where Microsoft's venture into storage is headed. Monshaw also said the open-source software development group Aperi, formed in October with eight other vendors, should produce the first version of a common storage management platform by mid-2006. That platform is designed to allow users to manage storage systems from multiple vendors through a single interface.

Excerpts from that interview follow:

What's changed from when you began this job? No. 1, I think we're at a time when we're seeing a tremendous tail wind and we're going to see many, many quarters of really strong growth -- well more than what's predicted by analysts right now. There's a tidal wave of data coming at people, and customers are figuring out the more data you can capture and use, the more you can turn into information.

After my first year, our vision on information-on-demand is resonating. The strategy is working and validated by customers. I think one of the reasons it is working is customers want end-to-end solutions. They want a company that can bring the right kinds of services and business consulting on the front, the right kinds of product innovation, complementary integrated software and integration with servers. They don't want a patchwork of acquisitions. The third piece is that virtualization is real this year. We're adding four to five customers a day on our storage virtualization offering [SAN Volume Controller]. It's turned out to be a very different business model than what we originally expected and presented to the corporation.

Five years ago, we thought people would sell virtualization and what's turned out is you sell the benefits of virtualization. It's a subtle difference, but from a business model it's a very big difference. When you're set in an infrastructure, it's a really expensive proposition to move out of because of the complexity [not just] of migrating arrays, but all the way through to managing the new stuff and having to retrain people. Virtualization opens this thing up and gives the customers a lot more choice on how they want to spend their money and with whom. It gives them choice. SVC works with just about everybody's arrays and 50 to 60 operating systems.

You said in April that SAN Volume Controller had broken the 1,000-customer mark. Where is it today? We have about 1,600 customers. We're adding four to five customers a day.