One final development bears mention – the apparent rise of user power. This seems to represent a backlash against poor support and overhype (a la virtualization and now ILM). SNIA, for example, has just sponsored an initiative called storagenetworking.org. This organization appears to have been established to help form Storage Networking User Groups (SNUG). These groups will function as an information exchange and educational forum for end users.
ESG's Duplessie touched on a similar vein, discussing the poor results reported by users concerning vendor support. When he asked the audience whether support was better two years ago or today, most chose the former. He enjoined the audience to force vendors to do things for them and leverage their dollars better.
"Cut through the vendor noise as currently everything sounds the same," said Duplessie. "Make vendors solve the problems you actually have rather than trying to sell you solutions to problems that don't really exist."
Another new user group, the Association of Storage Networking Professionals (ASNP), voiced a similar refrain. An ASNP party drew over 100 people and early indications are that this organization has struck a chord.
"Within less than a month, the association has qualified 734 new members," said Daniel Delshad, executive director of ASNP. "The response clearly validates our role in the marketplace as a user resource for education, to meet with peers and to voice real issues" A positive sign – smaller user forums are merging with it. The Minnesota Open SAN User Group, for instance, has folded its operations into ASNP.
"ASNP has a strong infrastructure, expert resources and a professional staff that will bring users together," said Michel Thorsen, founder of that Minnesota group and now a regional director for his local ASNP chapter. "The storage industry needs a strong end user-only voice to meet the challenges of storage management."