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Meet Colm Keegan (@colmswiss), Senior Analyst at Storage Switzerland (@StorageSwiss)

June 25, 2013

By Olivia Shannon, @Olivia_at_O

Colm Keegan has been involved with Storage Switzerland for several years as a ghost writer, but came onboard full-time at the beginning of this year. His background in end-user support and technical sales gives him a perspective focused on helping IT end users reduce their costs and enhance their IT systems. Part of that role involves identifying the latest emerging technologies that can help businesses solve their challenges around managing large amounts of data. He is interested in all kinds of storage technologies, including cloud, virtualization, backup, disaster recovery, object storage and big data. You can find Colm on Twitter @colmswiss or on LinkedIn here.

Colm Keegan

Q.  Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been working in the IT industry for 23 years. I started working in end-user support for seven years; I then spent 15 years working in various sales capacities, both on technical and account management. I have worked in data centers as a systems administrator, calling on customers and solving their challenges around storage, enterprise backup, and disaster recovery, mostly on distributed system platforms. I also have exposure to mainframe computing and data backup-related design. I’ve worked across verticals including banking, telcos, retail, managed services providers and education.

Q. Tell us about how you got involved with Storage Switzerland and its interest in data storage. 

I’ve known George Crump, the president and founder of Storage Switzerland, for about ten years. We met at an integrator company where he was the chief technology officer and I was covering a sales district in New England. We were early adopters of emerging technologies including data deduplication, for example. Our focus was to find ways to augment what customers were already doing to reduce their costs and enhance their systems. Part of that involved educating customers on emerging technologies hitting the market. IT professionals are very busy so if we could bring that information to clients, we could find a very effective way to streamline the process for people on the IT side.

In 2007 George started Storage Switzerland. Meanwhile, I worked in various tech sales roles, while staying in touch with George. After the creation of Storage Switzerland, he started getting a lot of work, so I did some ghost writing. I was interested in working with Storage Switzerland for a while; however, the timing wasn’t quite right for me to come onboard full-time until this year.

At Storage Switzerland we spend time vetting all the different technologies on the market and we generate content to disseminate that information to people via blogs, articles and white papers. We cut this information up into manageable chunks, because IT professionals don’t necessarily have time to read a lengthy white paper. We cover cloud computing, virtualization, storage, backup and newer technologies out there having to do with big data and unstructured content. We are a platform for people to get information quickly and it is highly vetted.

Q. What’s hot in storage this year? 

Although the adoption rate for object storage is relatively low, I think we will see that adoption escalate rapidly, driven by next-generation computing that is increasing the amount of unstructured data. The traditional computing model is giving way to designs based around monetizing information as it grows internally and externally. I’m interested in ways we can help companies understand how to manage all that unstructured data and see where business opportunities may lie for them. I don’t think we’ll see widespread adoption just yet because many companies are focused on current apps, but unstructured data is becoming more of a concern for them. It’s something I am taking a firmer interest in.

Q. What’s hot in cloud this year?

For many organizations, the cloud is still kind of new, but they can use cloud services to save money by using services such as backup-as-a-service or DR-as-a-service which can help save on the significant costs of building out a secondary or tertiary data center. Cloud represents a great opportunity for smaller companies without the resources and staff to build out and manage a dedicated data center. Businesses in general are making a natural progression towards pushing important, but not mission-critical, data to a cloud. Many companies are offering cloud-based backup and disaster recovery services to increase DR resiliency and push data offsite. Then, if your primary site goes down, you still have your data..

Q. What’s hot in virtualization this year?

Technologies designed to drive more automation into managing virtualized environments are very interesting. One company in particular is using a very dynamic model that in effect allows you to prioritize which applications can get access to compute and storage resources over others. Through automation, resources can be dynamically moved around without operator intervention, which helps to maintain consistent quality of service. This ability is certainly important for any medium to large size environment supporting hundreds, if not thousands, of virtual machines, and it is going to be essential for any service provider managing multitenant environments where they may have hundreds or thousands of clients utilizing the same computing infrastructure resources.

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

About 1 per month.

Q. Which storage events are you most looking forward to? 

Storage Networking World in Frankfurt, Germany, because it’s a great opportunity to get some European travel in along with business. I’m also looking forward to VMworld in San Francisco because I’ve heard it’s a HUGE show. Curious to see what it will be like.  We’re going to an object storage summit in San Francisco this week. From an analyst perspective, the more we can engage with newer vendors as well as the established players to see what they do to address major storage issues, the more worthwhile the event will be to attend. Typically we get broken out into scheduled briefings, and it is almost like speed dating. In one afternoon, you may have four or five briefings covering various subjects, from object storage to virtualization to SSD. It’s also valuable to put a face to a name as most of the time our briefings are web based.

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

Companies that are able to address pertinent day-to-day data center issues, whether they be backup and disaster recovery, storage or virtualization. I’m also interested in companies that are able to drive more automation into the management of the data center. I’ve read reports saying that data is doubling every two years or so, and all that data needs to be managed, so automating some of these tasks is of interest. I’m interested in organizations that are able to bring in solutions that are affordable upon inception – so you start small and grow large as needed.

Q. How many interviews do you do per week? 

We have a briefing day each week when we are not on the road, so we have about three to four briefing days per month. On a monthly basis, we interview about 25-30 companies. Some are “serial briefings” – a company has a new launch or new version, and we may have covered them previously, but they have new product releases or updates. But many of them are introductory briefings.

Q. What’s the best way to pitch a company to you?

People often use PR firms to reach out to us. You can contact our coordinator, Tammy (tsmith@storage-switzerland.com). You can also email me, George or Eric individually if you’ve seen something we’ve covered before as individuals and you think you have something that will be of particular interest to one or all of us. ckeegan@storage-switzerland.com

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

Jon Toigo, DrunkenData, and of course I think George (Crump) offers a really good perspective.

Q. What’s your favourite blog? Please provide links.

I tend to look at end user blogs like Spiceworks and stay in touch with them regarding on-the-ground issues for IT professionals. I also read posts on LinkedIn groups involving virtualization, cloud and storage.

Q. What is your favourite piece of technology?

I transitioned from a PC to a MacBook Pro 17” screen at the beginning of this year, and I got an iPad2 for the first time, too. The ability to access the info I need on a day-to-day basis, regardless of what device I am using, is hugely convenient. When traveling I can take my MacBook or iPad and use them as I see fit. I’m experiencing a lot more flexibility using Mac products over PCs. That’s my most recent experience. For me it is about mobility and not being pigeonholed into working in one place, so I can work at Starbucks or on the tradeshow floor and still get everything I need.

Q. What makes a great press trip or business trip?

The best trips are as effective with your time as possible. I always prefer flights with wifi access, particularly on long flights. When we decline to attend events sometimes, it is a question of time management rather than an issue of whether we are interested in the subject. We always try pack the most value into our time. It’s important to stay logged in and stay connected so you can keep your work time. It’s particularly important because we are often working on deadlines.

Q. What’s your favourite restaurant or type of food?

There is so much great cuisine in New York. I’m generally very flexible but I do like Italian, French and Spanish cuisine but I’m just as happy going to a pub that makes great burgers. I like red wine, so if I can pair it with a great meal, I’m happy.

Q. Are you a social media lover?

I go hot and cold with social media. I am on Facebook and I use it periodically—maybe a couple of times a week—to see if there are any posts from family members and friends I haven’t spoken to in a while. I don’t think I have ever posted a status update, though.

LinkedIn is good for all your professional contacts. I like the fact that I can get a LinkedIn message from people I haven’t spoken to in a while, and vice versa. It’s an effective way to communicate with people and maintain a measure of contact.

Twitter is a vehicle to push content. You will never see me make a personal tweet about sports or politics on Twitter. We use Twitter to to let people know when we are doing briefings and when we have posted new content on the Storage Switzeraland web site.

Q. How do you pronounce Colm?

Like a Roman column – Col – UM. George and Eric get a kick out of hearing people mispronounce my name when we do briefings; but that’s par for the course for me.

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

I appeared in the 1994 season finale of Law & Order with Chris Noth and Jerry Orbach. I played an angry rioter outside a courthouse. I’m also good at impersonations.

Copyright ©Launchpad Europe 2013. 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.

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2 comments

  1. […] An in-depth interview with Colm Keegan, Senior Analyst at Storage Switzerland, is available at Countdown2StorageExpo.com. Check out the interview here. […]


  2. […] An in-depth interview with Colm Keegan, Senior Analyst at Storage Switzerland, is available at Countdown2StorageExpo.com. Check out the interview here. […]



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