Dave Simpson joins The 451 Group – Q&A with the Countdown2StorageExpo team

June 7, 2011

Dave Simpson, a storage industry veteran and former editor-in-chief of InfoStor, has recently transitioned to an analyst role at The 451 Group. Dave will be working alongside Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar and reporting to Research Director Simon Robinson. You can read more about Dave’s appointment in the press release here.

Q.  Tell us a bit about yourself: 

In the context of this chat, and my new position as a storage analyst with The 451 Group, I guess my claim to fame is that I launched InfoStor back in 1997. I was the editor-in-chief there, and have been focused solely on storage for the past 14 years. But I’ve been covering the IT industry for longer than I would like to admit. Let’s just say that when I started, there was this new protocol called SCSI and optical disc drives were hot.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your analyst firm and its interest in data storage. 

After leaving InfoStor, I considered a number of options in the analyst/consulting/research realm, but I was particularly drawn to The 451 Group because of its business model, which is subscription-based. And content we produce is akin to objective, analytical journalism, which is what I’ve been doing my entire life. I also like the mix of 451 clients—vendors, IT end users and investment professionals. And I get to join the dynamic duo of Simon Robinson and Henry Baltazar.

Q. What’s hot in storage this year?

In no particular order: cloud storage, solid-state disk drives (and auto-tiering), data deduplication (yes, it’s still hot because we’ll see it show up on primary storage this year), convergence (including FCoE, although that’s taking off much slower than many expected), and all storage technologies optimized for virtual server (and, soon, virtual desktop) environments.

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

I’m not sure how many I’ll attend per year yet, but I’ll be focused primarily on the big vendors’ analyst conferences, as well as an SNW or two and maybe SNW Europe.

Q. Which one are you most looking forward to? 

Assuming I go, that would be SNW Europe. I attended Storage Expo in London once and there was a different vibe there compared to the storage shows in the US End users were more eager to hang out with vendors, whereas in the US the users are more apt to avoid vendors. At least that was my impression, and I found that to be interesting. Plus, although I’ve never been to Frankfurt, it must be more interesting than Orlando or San Jose.

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

Any company with a legitimate solution to end users’ pain points, but we’ll be focusing on the leaders in each storage segment as well as startups in emerging technology sectors.

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

Email (dave.simpson@the451group.com) for initial pitches. Definitely not via twitter or mail.

Q. What is your favourite piece of technology?

That’s impossible to answer, but I’ll take this opportunity to mention that I will in general be focused on data protection, including backup/recovery, replication, archiving, disaster recovery, cloud storage, data deduplication, etc. Out of the gates I’ll be particularly focused on data protection for virtual environments.

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

Whoaa, that’s a pretty broad question! Plenty of possibilities there, but I’m old enough to go with: the disk drive.

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

The main thing is to understand The 451 Group and how we differ from other research/consulting/analyst firms. And that our clients are a mix of vendors, IT end-user organizations and the investment community.

Q. What was the best business trip you’ve ever been on? Worst? Why?

This has nothing to do with the fact that you happen to be in the UK, but my best trip may have been Storage Expo in London, just because it differed from the typical US show. And London is more interesting than Orlando or Santa Clara. My worst was a trip to Taipei way back when, where I apparently ate the wrong food or drank the wrong beverages because I was ill throughout the business part of the trip as well as during subsequent personal stopovers in Hong Kong and Hawaii.

Q. What’s your favourite restaurant?

Locally (Los Angeles), it’s Palate Food + Wine in Glendale.

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

I don’t do Facebook; it’s a great personal tool, but of limited value professionally. I’m on LinkedIn, but I don’t use it a lot. I tweeted prolifically when I was at InfoStor, and will set up a new Twitter account once I get rolling at the 451 group.

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?  

I used to live in Laguna Beach, CA and I somehow over the years developed a reputation in the storage industry as an avid surfer. Fact is, I rarely surf; I suck at it; and when I do paddle out it’s at a beach appropriately named Old Man’s. The only sport I excel at is skiing. And last week I honed my kayaking and snorkeling skills in Maui. I just threw that in there to make you Londoners jealous.


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