You always hear about storage's big dogs. How about the little firms?

You can build good products without EMC's marketing budget

Storagebod Last week, I was at A3 Communications’ Technology Live marketing event.

It’s a smaller event where a group of journalists, bloggers and analysts are briefed by three or four companies. Good fun, a chance for awkward questions to be asked and generally good-humoured banter.

It is a chance for some of the smaller and lesser known companies to come out and play. Some go along straight after unveiling from stealth to get their message across without some of the hype and hyperbole of the larger events you sometimes associate with the business.

Companies such as Scale Computing and their converged platform probably deserve to be much better known. They target themselves at the SMB and smaller user whose IT department is one person who actually has another job; quietly getting on with things without loads of press releases about funding rounds and gazillion dollar valuations.

It is one of the few times when I’ve had a converged platform demonstrated where I’ve thought “that makes sense for their target market” as opposed to “shiny lights – but where’s the substance?”

DDN are much larger and better known than Scale Computing but probably not as well-known as they should be; their HPC roots are allowing them to play in the scale-out and big data space. They’ve taken massive strides in hiding some of the complexity of their products: what was really a bit of an engineer’s product now has some polish that really lends itself to the enterprise. If you are looking at tiering from primary storage to a secondary storage object tier, I think that you must have a look at these guys.

Tarmin have been around for ages with their Gridbank Data-Defined Storage. It’s a really interesting concept but it’s one where I still struggle to find a use-case that will really drive it forward. I think it's a Swiss Army knife of a product that might be lacking the one blade that would make it compelling; I feel that it’ll just need too much work to integrate into most application environments and I also have concerns about how easy it is to get out of, if you decided that it was no longer the platform for you.

We also had OpenIO who are another object storage vendor in what is an increasingly crowded space; new to the game and building on-top of an open-source product. You pay for the support and not the product: obviously, it’s a model that has worked well for some in the past but I feel that you really need some critical mass before it becomes viable.

There’s many alternatives out there now but it did look nice; hexagons instead of circles. It is also really easy to get up and running quickly. Install vagrant if you haven’t already and then, after a couple of commands, you can quickly have an object store up and running. With Swift and S3 compatibility it could be a nice entry point for developers to play with.

Earlier in the month, I was at BVE for my day job. I chatted to a few vendors but I really want to call out what I think is a perfect example of a company who are successfully building a business out of doing something extremely well in a well-defined niche. Object Matrix, who are based in Wales, do object storage for media applications; they have spent a lot of time integrating with products like Avid and GrassValley, really understanding the business that they are in and are building a successful company without mega investments. And they are really nice people… who unfortunately support one of the weaker sides in the Six Nations. ;-) (what, you mean Italy? – Vulture Central's backroom gremlins).

There are many companies like the aforementioned who are doing great jobs for their customers but who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve because they don’t play in the “glamour” end of the market. Yet I suspect some of them will still be around years after the unicorns have turned out to be pit-ponies…

Perhaps you work for one. If so, get in touch: I’d love to hear from you. ®

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