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20 years ago - in stealth mode

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - September 12, 2018
1 candle for each decade
when dealing with such a small cake
practicality dictates that one candle
for each decade is quite enough
I 've been perusing my emails of 20 years ago (September 1998) which was the month before I was due to launch my new site and I was curious to remind myself what kind of conversations I was having with people in the run up to doing that and - in effect - exiting stealth mode with an entirely web based publication which had no past print rooted brand strength.

I had already been publishing a server market guide for 6 years at that time (called the SPARC Product Directory) and my company had been operating a dotcom based business model funded by web advertising since 1996. But I wanted to make the new storage site look different and have its own identity.

Some of the new changes I planned to introduce in my new server-agnostic storage guide were more pictures (for example the branding images of the first few mice were already in hand) and the other "innovation" was to be the use of banner ads on the site - a design feature to which I had originally said no a few years before.

In those 20 year old emails I was looking at this week a common thread was that none of my storage advertising customers had ever run banner ads to promote their enterprise products before and so therefore many of the conversations were about finding people to design them in time to launch the new site.

I have preserved some of these older ads for future historians (pre modern SSD era storage banner ads / pre millenium SPARC banner ads) because they still tell us a lot about the products and the excitement about the key messages about them from a perspective which you don't see in dry historical narratives. (I'll add some more of those early examples into an update of this blog so you can get an idea of how much things have changed since then.)

You can see below an example of one of the earliest storage banner ads designed specifically to run here.(The vendor was Dynamic Computer Products which soon after changed their business name to Data Storage Depot.
a RAID banner ad from september 1998
This rev 1.0 ad design above - "leaders in RAID, disk, tape and memory upgrades" - was created in September 1998 and like most ads underwent many design changes during the period that the ad programs ran. (Approximately 8 consecutive years with this customer - which was not unusual in my customer base during the 20 peak years of my web ad based business.)

If it wasn't for the brave companies who were designing ads for a new site which didn't exist yet and who weren't scared of mice then I wouldn't have had such a rewarding job for the next 20 years and my readers would've had to wait another 2 years to see the next wave of portals (that's what we called them back then) which covered the storage market as a disaggregated whole.'s initial storage-wide focus (from raw storage chips, and RAID systems, backup software to tape libraries) itself would later change when in about 2007 - on seeing the scale of my earlier predictions for the SSD market coming true - I quietly resolved to reduce my editorial coverage of things to do with the rotating storage market and instead refocus most of my energies on the rapidly changing SSD market. Which was just about as much as I thought I would be able to comfortably wrestle with given where the technology had started and where I thought it was going to go.

PS - the earlier SPARC Product Directory (launched in 1992) already included directories of compatible storage interface adapters, memory etc - including SPARC chips, motherboards and systems from notebooks to supercomputers.

But a pivotal factor for me in the decision to start a separate storage site was when I added an online directory of RAID systems to the SPARC guide in 1997 and acquired new customers from outside the Sun market (such as DEC) as well as additional business from some long standing customers of mine (such as Rave Computer which were already advertising SPARC systems for the telco market and had some compatble rackmount RAID for the same applications.

After the launch of in October 1998 new directories were added to the site every week until it became a big list of lists covering the whole market.
Below this you can see some other banner ads which ran here on at its launch in October 1998.

(Clicking on them takes you to the 1998 version of the destination web sites - as you'd expect.)
click for more info

Memoryx banner ad from 1998

SSD history
SPARC history
D2d (disk to disk backup) history
40 years of thinking about nvm endurance
are we ready for infinitely faster RAM? (and what would it be worth)

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