Data Storage Industry Remembers Analyst Jon Toigo

Jon Toigo, one of the best-known analysts in the data storage industry, passed away Feb. 12 at the age of 59.

Toigo has been a fixture in the storage industry for about 20 years, and was best-known for his live presentations at conferences as well as for his blog, drunkendata.com.

Greg Knieriemen, chief technologist at storage vendor NetApp, told CRN that he first met Toigo during his early days when Knieriemen was vice president of marketing at Chi Corp., a Cleveland-based solution provider.

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Knieriemen said he had a lot of respect for Toigo, who used to do a lot of road shows to discuss storage topics and stir up debate back before Twitter was born.

“We all take Twitter for granted,” he said. “But 15 years ago, he was stirring up debate in his blog and at road shows like no one else. Sometimes he was legitimately challenged. But he brought conversations to the table. He was never afraid to challenge conventional wisdom.”

Knieriemen said Toigo really set the tone for how to discuss the storage industry.

“For a lot of people trying to make their way up in the industry, Jon was a role model,” he said. “I’ll bet most of the talking heads in storage can trace their interest and motivation to Jon. He seeded a lot of interest in the industry.”

Rich Baldwin, chief information officer and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider, told CRN via email that he knew Toigo for 20 years.

“He was a rare and unique individual of the highest integrity and superior intellect. I have enjoyed his cutting-edge presentations at many technology conferences as well as the hallway technical discussions that could go on for hours at a time. He was a jovial and good-natured person with a wicked sense of humor and he could hold an audience on the edge of their seat during his presentations,” Baldwin wrote.

Baldwin said that Toigo was unique in the analyst community. “He was a consumer advocate and loved to help clients make the best technology decisions. He was painfully honest when reviewing products or technology decisions, and you could not buy his recommendation for a product if he didn’t believe that it was the best technology and even then he would always state what was still lacking or required to have a fully functional product. I don’t know any other industry analyst that had this level of integrity,” he wrote.

Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of worldwide storage at IBM, who knew Toigo for about 20 years, said Toigo was an early expert on RAID technology in the 1990s but shortly thereafter became known for his expertise in disaster recovery and data protection.

Toigo was even more concerned about the end users of storage and the channel partners who helped those end users, Herzog told CRN.

“He could translate the intellectual benefits a storage vendor could see into something the end user could see,” he said. “Most analysts are vendor-oriented. Jon was much more end user-oriented. What did end users need? What did end users see? Jon’s strength was translating what the vendors saw into what the end users need. And that helped the channel.”

One of Toigo’s peers, Marc Staimer, founder of and senior analyst at Beaverton, Ore.-based Dragon Slayer Consulting, wrote to CRN via email that Toigo was a joy to be around.

“He always had well thought out opinions on just about everything. He was bright, witty, and thoroughly entertaining with wonderful stories. But most of all he cared. He cared about his family, his community, his country, his clients, his work, issues affecting the world, and people in general. Jon was a kind and conscientious human being. He was a colleague and I am proud to have called him my friend,” Staimer wrote.

Rob Pelgar, president at Advanced Computation and Storage, a St. Louis area-based consultant, wrote via email that Toigo was vey much a “people person” for whom personal interactions were as important as analyzing technology.

“During the nearly 20 years I knew him, he certainly garnered his fair share of critics, mostly high muckety-mucks from corporations he skewered (and rightly so) in his writing and speaking, but he was also a clear and unique voice to others like me, a friend and cohort, showing great care about the state of the art, but again, more about the people who use technology. In the most recent years, Jon was a great listener, wanting to know the ins and outs of breakthrough technologies and the people behind them. He will be sorely missed; I consider Jon one of the greats in our industry, as well as [in] his personal life, a dedicated family man,” Pelgar wrote.

Steve Sicola, executive vice president and chief architect of Formulus Black, a Jersey City, N.J.-based storage startup and one of the earliest developers of storage technology in the 1980s, called Toigo an amazing human being and the best technical analyst he ever worked with.

“He was not afraid of telling the truth on his blog posts as well as magazine articles, even with customers. He stood for truth and was respected all over the world for the work he has done. He did all this without taking away from his family. On vacations, he would be doing work in his mini-office in he and [his wife] Margaret’s SUV. Jon will be missed by many and he was unique in all facets of life. I will miss our chats, social meetings with his wife and mine, as well as the work he has done with me and for me for over 25 years. Jon will be remembered by many, many people in this world,” Sicola wrote in an email to CRN.

Wayne Rickard, chief marketing officer at Formulus Black, wrote via email to CRN that when he first met Toigo, he was told the easy way to remember his name was to think “two ego” as in one ego not being enough for Toigo.

“But that wasn’t true. Jon was generous with his time and talent, and even when he was the smartest guy in the room, which was often, a knowing smile and a joke were his tools in trade. His wit and creativity made him that rarest of breed in the tech field—a perfect melding of right-brain artist with left-brain thinker. He will be missed,” Rickard wrote.

While best-known as a storage analyst and consultant, Toigo was also an expert in data management and data protection. He was the author of 11 books, including “The Holy Grail of Data Storage Management” and “Disaster Recovery Planning.”

Toigo passed away on Feb. 12 of natural causes. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, and his six children, mother, two brothers, and seven sisters.

Source: Data Storage Industry Remembers Analyst Jon Toigo