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HP Tech Forum 2010 Opening Keynote Session

After finishing up the second half of the “EVA Management Utilities, Techniques, Tips & Tricks” there was a brief 15 minute break before the Opening Keynote Session.  And it was in an arena.  I wish I had an aerial view of this facility, I can’t imagine where they fit it!  I’m guessing most of this place is underground.

They handed out 3D glasses on our way in to the arena, which had some dance-pop vamp music playing, extra heavy on the bass.  Dancers came out, did their thing to the theme of the conference this year – “Converge, Innovate, Transform.”  They finally finished their shtick, after which Jake Johannsen came out to emcee.  He had a few funny moments, but I don’t think there were any knee-slapping moments.  First up with their PowerPoint slides was HP’s Rich Geraffo who read his slides and frankly I was underwhelmed.  His presentation centered around ideas like “business are finding new ways to compete” and “convergence.”  “Blah blah blah convergence blah blah blah transform blah blah blah innovate.”  Granted, he’s only been with HP for a few months, but you’d think he’d have put more thought into his presentation or let an HP veteran present.

Then, DreamWorks Animation‘s Jeffrey Katzenberg ran his presentation and it was the most riveting because it was REAL.  Not just theory and abstract concepts.  Did you know over 45,000,000 (yes, 45 million) compute hours were spent to render the last Shrek movie?  Roughly 20 million hours to do the one prior?  And 10 million for the one prior to that?  Jeffrey also presented a few previews of movies in the works, such as “Kung Foo Panda 2” which looked amazing.

Next up was Brocade’s Ian Whiting, who did a presentation about partnerships based on the idea that HP and Brocade are two players on the same soccer team, each setting up the other with opportunities to take a shot on goal and score.  Since HP and Brocade have been working together for so closely and so long, they are positioned to continue bringing leading storage technology to the industry.  Oh, and Fibre Channel isn’t dead yet, and they will be introducing 16Gb FC next year.  SIXTEEN Gigabits per second… are you KIDDING?  There are barely any customers using more than 4Gb at this point, who who WHO is going to buy into 16Gb FC?  That’s a lot of bandwidth for storage!

Finally, Jim Gaffigan took to the stage.  He was hilarious, and really entertaining.  He went off on this whole spiel on hotels it was amazing.  “We tend to forget that whole value proposition thing when we’re in our hotel room.  ‘Hmmm.  8 dollars for a can of coke from the honor bar.  Well, that’s not too bad, otherwise I’ve got to walk all the way down the hallway to the vending machine.  And I’m naked!  I’m not leaving my room!  Naked!’ ”

This whole idea of convergence is a little unsettling.  If you’ve been living under a rock this can mean one of two things — either we’re consolidating disk storage traffic and network traffic into a single medium, or we’re talking about “the cloud” in any of its many descriptions.  This is unsettling because people throw these words around without knowing or stating what they really mean.  “Ah-ha new customer A1D, you’re not plugged into our Cloud yet, ARE you.  It’s funny, I was just talking to your competitor and they said they will be using our Cloud and zooming right past you…”

Even more unsettling — I had the opportunity to chat with some conference attendees and one gentleman said he couldn’t wait until fibre-channel disappeared and was replaced by iSCSI.  He was also an advocate of solving network capacity problems by simply throwing so much bandwidth at it (Infiniband, for example) that you wouldn’t need to worry about configuration and management.  In my experience, this is sloppy and doesn’t protect your business’ data as well as a closely managed and monitored system will.  Yes, it may be time to start thinking about transitioning from fibre channel to iSCSI but there’s no emergency and still plenty of life left in our existing FC equipment.

Photo gallery below, and I’ll post more about the second half of the EVA Storage U-Conn session tomorrow.

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