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Analyst Q and A: Ray Lucchesi, Another man on a storage mission on a mountain

September 27, 2011

By Rose Ross, @Rose_at_O

We were lucky enough to catch up recently with Ray Lucchesi, founder of Silverton Consulting, AKA Ray on Storage. Here he shares some of the peaks and troughs of his storage life so far. Ray is obviously a lover of the great outdoors and the picture he shared above is of the Luchessi boys enjoying a backpacking trip to the Holy Cross wilderness, Missouri Lakes trail.

Q.  Tell us a bit about yourself:  

I am technically oriented, having managed and developed storage products for 25+ years prior to becoming an analyst. I love to talk technology with people who know what they are talking about.  I get kicks out of seeing, feeling, and working with new storage systems and software.

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

My firm works mainly with vendors helping them develop/market storage products/services and with end customers helping them choose and use data storage.  I have been interested in data storage for over 35 years now, ever since I dropped my first removable disk pack (must have been 8-16 platter, disk in a plastic case, not sure it ever worked again).  How does this work, will it work now, and can we make it work faster, were just some of the questions running through my head at the time.

Q. What’s hot in storage this year?  

Got to be SSDs.  Everywhere I look there’s another SSD/Flash system startup coming out. In my area alone (Denver) there are at least 2 startups working in this arena and probably more I don’t know about. There are lot’s more on the two coasts as well.

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

As many as I can get to, which usually includes at least both US SNWs, EMC world, VMworld, various major vendor analyst meetings focused on storage. This can go much higher if I am speaking at other storage conferences as well.

Q. Which one are you most looking forward to?  

VMworld has become more and more interesting every year I attend one. The only problem with VMworld is there’s just not enough time to see everything and meet with everyone I want to.  Also, I like EMC World and both SNWs as well because of their storage focus.  The major vendor analyst meetings are also great times to hear about new products, technology, and directions.

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

Last year it was cloud storage this year it’s mostly SSD and SSD/Flash storage system vendors. I suppose the other thing that’s been getting increasing attention this year is big data, analytics and scale out storage appliances (sometimes embodied in the same product).

Q. How many interviews do you do per week?

I probably talk to a couple of vendors a week about new products, this can vary considerably depending on the season and upcoming storage events. I wouldn’t necessarily call these interviews but more like vendor briefings.

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

Email works best for me. I can be reached pretty easily by DMing me @RayLucchesi on Twitter or office phone as well.

Q. Who is worth listening to (about storage)?

I like StorageIO (Greg Schulz), Wikibon (Dave  Vellante, et al), and ESG group (Steve Duplessie and team).

Q. What’s your favourite blog?

I probably read Wikibon the most and then it’s vendor blogs (EMC, HDS, IBM, &  NetApp).   Not a blog, but I also like Infosmack podcasts.

Q. What is your favourite piece of technology?

It’s got to be the disk drive. Just imagine, a couple of square inches of surface area, a read write head, and a couple of motors and you have a TB of data or more in the palm of your hands.  That and warp drive engines of course.

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

Semiconductor storage (not necessarily NAND storage) has got to be it.  Anything that has the potential to replace disk storage has got to be an important development.

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

Talk to me about how your technology solves customer problems, how it beats the competition and then we can talk.

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

I have had plenty of business trips but the ones I remember the most were to Europe and Asia. Last year I got to attend a Hitachi, Ltd/HDS analyst meeting in Tokyo which was just great.  In my previous job, I got to go to Munich’s OctoberFest with a bunch of European customers which was a hell of a time.   My worst trips would have to be any time I had to go to a customer and explain why a product wasn’t working properly (I used to call these “Fall on my sword trips”) and it didn’t matter if this was what continent it was on, they were all hard to do.

Q. What’s your favourite restaurant?

I am fond of Italian and American food. There is a place in Switzerland called Cento Valley, outside of Lugano, with a number of great restaurants. There is one there which served the best cream sauce and ravioli in Europe.   As for American food,  I would have to say the Chop House in Boulder.

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

Yes, I am on FB, Twitter, and LinkedIN. I use them all, perhaps a bit differently. I use LinkedIN to find out what’s happening with my friends and colleagues as they change their profiles. I use Twitter to follow the industry news and all the great storage personalities out there. I use FB mostly to connect with family about what’s happening but have started to feed my Twitter and blog posting into FB as well.  I also have a blog, Ray OnStorage.com which I use to discuss recent storage, IT and technology news.

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? 

My claims to fame probably all revolve around my family or my product development activities at a previous employee. These included multiple projects which made the company $100Ms, if not more in revenue.  My most unusual hobbies are swimming 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 aspire to be a science fiction writer but I am not quite ready to start that pursuit just yet.

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