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Man on a data mountain – Chris Mellor, Storage Editor of www.theregister.co.uk interview: View from the top (literally)

September 24, 2010

By Rose Ross, @Rose_at_O

It has been a while since we spoke to the wonderful Chris Mellor, Storage Editor of www.theregister.co.uk. So it’s great to get further insights from him. For the original interview back in 2007 click here.

Q.  Tell us a bit about yourself:

CM: I am a fisherman, casting my hooks into the storage waters and hoping to catch interesting fish,  bottom feeders, predators and weeds.

Q – Tell us a little bit about the site and the blog you write and their interest in data storage:

CM: The Register aims to cover the most important and interesting storage news stories as fast and as comprehensively as possible, adding in relevant context and throwing in opinions, well-informed ones hopefully, about claims and assertions. Speed is essential for news, less so for comment and blog pieces where it’s interest that’s key and not timeliness. We’re looking here for significance or something that points up a contrast with how things are usually done.

Q – What’s hot in IT storage this year?

CM: The convergence of storage into integrated IT stacks; the re-emergence of direct-attach storage, even if it is really a locally networked SAN to a set of blade servers; the development of primary data deduplication; the expansion of SSD storage tiers and form factors; cloud storage; and federation ideas.

Q – How many storage events do you attend each year?

CM: As many as I can since they are a target-rich environment in terms of vendors. Many of the most interesting ones are in mainland Europe or the USA and travel is a constant concern. The old Storage Expo in the UK has been pretty much devalued by becoming 360 Degree IT (Ed, we feel a blog post is required on this. “Storage Expo is dead, Long live Storage Expo!”). Niche storage events like ones focused on flash memory are becoming more important. Vendor events are also becoming vital and are often extremely interesting for the depth of insight you get.

Q – Which one are you most looking forward to?

CM: SNW Frankfurt, and HP and IBM events.

Q. -What types of stories or companies are likely to attract your attention this year?

CM: Firstly, ones dealing with mainstream storage vendors. Secondly, ones dealing with emerging  technology such as FCoE, primary data deduplication, enterprise MLC flash, HDD recording technology and areal density moves, and things like IT stack convergence. Thirdly, ones dealing with new ways of viewing existing technology.

Stories that have a hard time passing the door are me-too cloud storage, enterprise storage arrays at SME prices from relatively unknown vendors, and anything presented as coming from a ‘thought leader’ :-)

Q. How many interviews do you do per week?

CM: Up to five, sometimes one. Two or three are comfortable. Not all result in stories which is unfortunate for the vendor and PR agency concerned as it looks as if they have wasted their time. However I value such meetings highly because of the background information and the relationship-building inherent in them.

Q – What’s the best way to pitch a story to you? Email? Phone? Twitter? By mail?

CM: For PR people who know me then phone is okay but it is difficult for others because getting to what I think is the key aspect of their message is time-consuming. Of course it is more personal for them that way but I prefer to receive e-mailed pitches. That’s impersonal and I may be late replying so that is unsatisfactory from a PR sense. Phone me if you can put up with often aggressive (very sorry about this) and interruptive questioning. I really am sorry about this and can only plead pressure of time.

In the working hours I am writing or researching and a phone call interrupts that and I don’t often deal with the interruption gracefully. It’s not a good trait.

A preference I have is not to talk to vendors until I think I have enough background information, collectedly web search or email. Talking is preferably face to face rather than telephone although that’s not always possible of course.

Q. – Who is worth listening to?

CM: Vendor CEOs and CTOs and some marketing people, certain analysts both financial and IT, people who can marry detail, mid-and big-picture levels of an issue. Steve Duplessie and his analyst team, Jon Toigo, Steve Foskett, certain vendor twitterers, StorageMojo, certain vendor bloggers from EMC and NetApp, Pillar Data and Xiotech.

Certain vendor PRs such as Michael Hall from Seagate, Danny M from Western Digital, Liem from Compellent, several from EMC, Ken Saunders at IBM, Chris Drago at Pillar, Rob Peglar at Xiotech, and more. There are lots of great people in the storage world. Although it is largely about spinning media, there isn’t that much empty spin in it.

Q. – What’s your favourite blog?

CM: StorageMojo is great. So too is Mike Workman of Pillar. Chuck and Barry and Storagezilla at EMC are good value; Barry White at IBM too. Dave Hitz of NetApp has stopped blogging which is a pity.

It’s not a blog but Jean-Jacques Maleval’s Storage Newsletter is a heroic production and both mandatory and interesting reading. In general, I’m beginning to rely more on Tweet monitoring to get a sense of what is current and interesting in the storage world than tracking blogs.

Q – What is your favourite piece of technology?

CM: My iPad without question. It has transformed note-taking at interviews and is great for pictures, videos and music and remote Internet access. The thing is both fabulous and indispensable.

Q -What do you think is the most important development in IT storage to date?

CM: Virtualisation in its widest sense of RAID, storage pools, thin-provisioning, deduplication and unified file and block and, soon, federation. It’s a continuing development more than a point invention.

Q – What is the best piece of advice for companies pitching stories?

CM: To me? First of all pitch and be damned. If you don’t pitch, you don’t get anywhere. Secondly, if you have time, research The Reg’ and review a few of my stories to catch their subject matter and approach and type – news, comment or blog, and then pitch accordingly

Thirdly, if you don’t know what you are talking about then say so and be willing to tell me how I can get access to the real goods but, for an unknown technology or vendor that is not with a telephone call to the CEO or head marketeer. It’s printed information I want or a slide deck.

Lastly, don’t please offer an interview with a ‘thought leader’ or a reseller boss who can present his or her view of the storage world and the trends in it that, funny this, the reseller is poised to take advantage of.

Q – What was the best press trip you’ve ever been on? Why was it so great? Any tips for PRs planning trips/events for bloggers?

CM: The HDS trip to Japan was fabulous in terms of access to vendor technology-aware executive staff, great vendor staff, insight into HDS’ strategy and products and general insight into Tokyo. HP, Pillar Data, EMC and Compellent trips have also been excellent with great people, terrific access and enjoyable facilities.

A Unisys trip involved driving from London to the south of France and back; the lovely people paid the fuel bills. HP did the same for a trip to Bonn. Wowee; there and back in a sports car with the roof down and three figures on the speedo as often as not. Vroom vroom.

I like roaming untethered at tradeshow and vendor events. Having W-iFi access is absolutely essential.

Q- What’s your favourite restaurant?

CM: Andrew Edmunds and Ransome’s Dock in London, Pret a Manger for a quick lunch.

Q – Are you a social media lover? Which ones are you on? FB? LinkedIn? Twitter?

CM: I follow storage people on Twitter a lot and post there too. LinkedIn I use for research and accept link requests from people I know but don’t use for my own professional networking at all. Facebook is something I don’t use as it sucks up too much time and is difficult to set up filters to exclude the vast amount of excessive information on it.

Q- Tell us something no-one knows about you? Do you have any unusual or unexpected hobbies/interests? Do you have a claim to fame?

CM: Fame? No. Quirks? Yes. I walked down into and back up the Grand Canyon in a day while on a DEC trip to Denver. I have published over sixty sports car buying guides, several climbing guides plus a guide to Hawksmoor Churches in London.

Q – Anything else you’d like to share – something about The real Chris Mellor..

CM: I go rock climbing and my email address contains the name of a coastal headland – Pentire Head – in Cornwall where I had a really memorable climb. Secondly, I have driven at 160mph plus on a German Autobahn and it was utterly fabulous. The only thing better could be driving at 170mph … 180mph … Vroom Vroom.

From the Countdown2storageexpo team, a big thank you for his insights into what makes him tick and how to best pitch him stories. Chris is on twitter at www.twitter.com/chris_mellor or his stories here.

Copyright ©Launchpad Europe 2010. All rights reserved. You may copy and distribute this material as long as  you credit the author where possible; the copies are distributed only for non-commercial purposes and at no charge; and you include this copyright notice and link to Countdown2StorageExpo.com, the original source of the work.

If you have any questions, please contact Launchpad Europe, info@launchpad-europe.com.

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12 comments

  1. A very honest and very useful post from a true seeker of knowledge and adventure.

    Chris has my undying admiration. I first met him half way up the Devil’s Slide on Lundy island, while roped up and anchored to the rock by a small wire, about 30 feet above the sea. He nonchalantly strolled out to the middle of the same slab on a ledge about 5 cm wide, his nicely pressed shirt flapping in the breeze, and proceeded up the sparsely protected slab without a murmur. A very cool man indeed.


  2. [...] Top tech journo on the list Chris Mellor has been profiled twice before here on the Countdown blog. Check out the interview here. [...]


  3. [...] and backpacking although I don’t get around to backpacking as much as I want to anymore. Like Chris Mellor from The Register, one of my favorite trips was backpacking across the Grand Canyon. Finally, for some reason I [...]


  4. [...] many of the judges on the Countdown blogs, including Simon Robinson, Teresa Cottam, Andrew Seldon, Chris Mellor,and others. We’ll also be interviewing other judges in the coming weeks on this blog and our [...]


  5. [...] many of the judges on the Countdown blogs, including Simon Robinson, Teresa Cottam, Andrew Seldon, Chris Mellor, and others. We’ll also be interviewing other judges in the coming weeks on this blog and our [...]


  6. [...] many of the judges on the Countdown blogs, including Simon Robinson, Teresa Cottam, Andrew Seldon, Chris Mellor, and others. We’ll also be interviewing other judges in the coming weeks on this blog and our [...]


  7. [...] Chris Mellor, Storage Editor, The Register [...]


  8. [...] Chris Mellor, Storage Editor, The Register [...]


  9. [...] Chris Mellor, Storage Editor, The Register [...]


  10. [...] Chris Mellor, Storage Editor, The Register [...]


  11. [...] Chris Mellor, Storage Editor of The Register.  If you do anything involving storage and you don’t haunt [...]



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