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Q&A with Antony Adshead, UK Bureau Chief, SearchStorageUK

September 20, 2010

Antony Adshead made a career switch from engineering to journalism in 1995 and since then has written news and features for a wide variety of business and technology magazines. He was senior reporter and deputy technical editor at leading business IT magazine Computer Weekly from 2000 to 2004, after which he developed a successful career as a freelance writer covering IT networks and storage for a number of technology titles. Antony is originally from Birmingham and now works from West Yorkshire. He has a master’s degree from the University of London.

Q. What kind of storage companies are you most interested in?

I’m most interested in what customers do with storage, how they choose the products they do and the benefits and challenges they get from implementing them. I’m interested in storage companies in so far as I’m interested in customers getting the best deal they can and not being jerked about by vendors.

Q. How should people pitch to SearchStorageUK?

By email or phone, and with the point of the call to the forefront. And preferably that should include the potential for a customer interview.

Q. What pitching mistake do you see the most?

I don’t see many these days as most PRs know what I need. Occasionally you get an odd one out of leftfield though – recently I was emailed with the opportunity to interview the remains of 60s pop group The Searchers. I thought of asking them their views on 8 Gig Fibre Channel but decided against it.

Q. Tell me the best/most memorable intro to a press release you’ve read in recent memory.

They’re never that memorable. If they become so I shall contact Exit 😉

Q. What can tech PR consultants do to get on your good/bad side?

Get me lots of customer case studies with people who love talking to the press about how they chose and implemented their products. Oh, and fly me places and take me on yachts and the like.

Q. About you:  Tell me about yourself!

I grew up in Birmingham, left school to become an engineer (toolmaker) and eventually gave that up to go to university at the age of 28. I wandered into journalism after doing a master’s.

I like to be quite active – walking and sailing are my fave outdoor pastimes these days. I like to read history, politics, and also physics – I like to know what makes people/things tick. I like music too, playing a bit of guitar, and occasionally DJ-ing – old reggae/ska is my thing.

Q. Tell me about www.SearchStorage.co.uk

SearchStorageUK is a UK operation owned by Massachusetts-based Techtarget, which runs dozens of niche technology sites. We aim to provide our 30,000 UK subscribers with technical and practical help in doing their jobs. I was recruited for the role from a very small pool of storage-knowledgeable UK freelancers and I’m very pleased to work with the knowledgeable and good people in the storage group at TechTarget.

Q.  Twitter – love it or hate it? Why?

I’m indifferent to it mostly. Oh, I did block a couple of friends’ Facebook updates after it became apparent they’d been ordered to tweet by their employers, which resulted in numerous irrelevant annoying status updates every day.

Q.  Tell us something nobody else knows about you (yet!)

Myself and Alastair Campbell (former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Director for Communications and Strategy) have a similar type of job in the early part of our CVs. [Ed: luckily that’s where the comparisons end!]

Q. If you could interview one visionary information technology pro, who would that be? Why?

Someone who can convince me what forthcoming technology shares will rocket in value in five years time!

Q. Who is worth listening to?

W Curtis Preston – aka Mr Backup

Q. What is your favourite blog?

Jon William Toigo’s Drunken Data – I’ve never known anyone to tell it like it is as he does.  [Ed: Great, I think it’s time to line up Jon for an interview too!]

Q. What is your favourite piece of technology?

The sail. Oh, you mean in IT? The HDD, of course.

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

Most people I speak to (i.e., storage users) spend most of their time managing their capacity, and often buying more of it, so the true but boring answer to the question is “the hard disk drive”. Hot air-wise, it’s cloud storage, solid state storage or tiered storage, depending on which vendors you’re listening to. The thing we’ve seen most increase in use in recent years (in our SearchStorageUK surveys) is the use of shared storage on the back of server virtualisation projects and also data deduplication, which has really set down roots in the past couple of years.

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

Non-volatile memory. And the microprocessor. Boring but true, but we’re still dependent on them and will be for the foreseeable future.

Q. Where do you see the industry heading?

I predict there will be many companies selling different boxes with the same disk drives inside them.

OK, that’s the slightly cynical answer. The real answer is there’ll be more integration between storage and increasingly virtualised processing, with combined bundles of servers/networks/storage being marketed. That’s by the big boys, of course. The smaller outfits will continue to develop innovative ways of storing data and making its footprint smaller, and these in turn will be acquired by the aforementioned big boys.

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