Storage Networking Industry Gains New Professional Association

The list of organizations for storage networking customers will grow by one on Tuesday with the formation of the Association of Storage Networking Professionals.

Storage users on Tuesday will get their fourth new advocacy group of the year, with the launch of the Association of Storage Networking Professionals, founder Daniel Delshad said today.

For users making buying decisions about the complex and expensive world of enterprise storage, "Theyre still feeling very powerless when it comes to separating the hype from whats real," Delshad said, in Los Angeles.

As with the Storage Networking Industry Associations Customer Council, industry analyst Jon Toigos Data Management Institute, and consultancy Network System Architects Inc.s, Delshads organization aims to create a certification program, a resource for white papers , and online forums for users to share advice. Uniquely, the ASNP site will also offer a jobs section, classifieds for used storage gear, and a request-for-proposals database, he said.

Initially, ASNP will have 14 domestic chapters, and eight overseas. Only storage customers are allowed to join, and charter members in each region will conduct membership drives. Membership will be free to the first 1,000 people, and will be $199 each if that ceiling is eclipsed, Delshad said. The membership rolls will be screened to prevent resellers and vendors from disguising themselves as users, he added. The only role vendors can have is as site sponsors, he said.

Delshad also owns the annual Storage World Conference, but to prevent the shows exhibitors from attempting to influence ASNP content, the new group has private, separate funding, which will last at least three years, he said.

"Regardless of what vendors want, its not going to affect the decisions of ASNP. Thats not me," he said. The ASNP probably will get critical, but vendors "should look at it as constructive. ... These are the people that are buying their products," he noted.

One such customer, Tom Giannetti is the director of information systems operations for The Home Depot Inc.s maintenance warehouse division, and the charter member of the California chapter. "We have just about everything under the sun—SAN, NAS, direct-attached [storage]," he said, in San Diego. But when such projects started, "there wasnt a good medium for end users to know about each other, to get in contact with each other ... it was really quite an effort for me," he said.

Although customers can access e-mail lists and user meetings for specific vendors and products, "theyre very time consuming and very cumbersome," Giannetti said. As to contacting other storage administrators on the ASNPs behalf so far, "the response has been extremely positive. We really think that by assembling the masses, if you will, from a pure end user perspective, well be more successful."