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Jon Toigo, data storage analyst and author remembered

Editors and colleagues pay tribute to the respected data storage analyst, pundit and author, who was a longtime Storage magazine columnist and TechTarget contributor and speaker.

Storage professionals lost a strong advocate and a popular pundit last month when longtime Storage magazine and TechTarget contributor Jon Toigo died of natural causes. He was 59.

As CEO and managing principal of Toigo Partners International and chairman of the Data Management Institute, Jon was an in-demand speaker who presented at conferences around the world, including TechTarget's own Storage Decisions conferences over the years. A prolific author, Jon wrote thousands of articles, authored 11 books and regularly discussed storage and data management technologies and issues on his blog, DrunkenData.com.

Few could match Jon's data storage knowledge and consistency in aim and practice of elucidating data storage technology and the industry. He wasn't just an analyst and expert, however. Jon was an outspoken consumer advocate for IT professionals, decision-makers and buyers. He possessed strong opinions and wasn't afraid to express them, no matter how controversial or out of the mainstream they may have seemed at the time.

Jon ToigoJon Toigo

As former Storage magazine Managing Editor Ed Hannan noted in his recollections below, Jon would, for example, passionately -- and often amusingly -- tell anyone who would listen that tape wasn't dead. Tape, to the chagrin of some, had no better friend than Jon Toigo. He pointed out over and over in his own inimitable way how tape still had a place in the enterprise IT toolkit.

When asked a few years ago in a TechTarget Ask the Expert article if magnetic tape storage was dead or alive, here is what Jon had to say:

"There has been a concerted effort by some disk array vendors to characterize tape as a has-been technology. They have paid considerable money to 'objective' industry analysts to paint a gloomy picture of the technology. And, frankly, up until very recently, tape vendors have been pretty lackadaisical about responding to assertions about their preferred technology. The answer is clearly no. Tape not only provides the best option for protecting most data today, it is finding new roles to play."

Jon Toigo didn't mince words, especially when it came to subjects in IT he was passionate about.

To honor Jon, we asked some of the editors who worked with him, as well as other data storage industry pundits and analysts, to share their thoughts and remembrances about their colleague. As you will see -- and it should come as no surprise -- superlatives and adjectives like considerate, inquisitive, inventive, entertaining, joyous, conscientious, dapper, biting, sharp, trusted, hilarious, humble, kind, quick-witted, down to earth and larger than life pop up in these remembrances.

Jon was all these things and more. He was a pleasure to work with, and it was a privilege to serve as his editor at Storage magazine over the last few years. I always looked forward to reading his thoughtful and entertaining columns.

Jon Toigo talks software-defined storage at Storage Decisions in 2015.

For our most recent issue, Jon served as one of the judges for our annual enterprise storage Products of the Year competition and his latest Storage Revolution column, "Cloud repatriation and the trend away from all things cloud," appears in it. The latter is about how enterprises are starting to bring workloads and storage resources back in-house to the benefit of other technologies and practices, including -- you guessed it -- magnetic tape, among other things. We also have two final columns Jon wrote for Storage magazine that we'll be publishing in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

We on TechTarget's storage team offer our sincere condolences to Jon's wife of 23 years, Margaret, mother, six children, two brothers, seven sisters and all his family and friends who are mourning his loss.

A few thoughts about Jon Toigo

Thirty years as a writer and editor somehow haven't prepared me to find the words to adequately express my shock and sadness at Jon's passing. I do know, however, that I was incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Jon over about a 10-year period -- on his columns and other writing, and his sessions at our conferences and seminars. Jon's trademark ponytail and three-piece suits made him stand out on stage, but his uniqueness came from within. Jon was smart, inquisitive and inventive -- all traits that emerged in larger-than-life doses on stage. But the offstage Jon was warm, caring and profoundly considerate of others. My sympathy and best wishes go to Jon's wife, Margaret, and their children.

-- Rich Castagna, former TechTarget vice president of editorial

Jon was a joy to be around. I always looked forward to our conversations. They were lively, and we were generally in violent agreement. Jon 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. He will be missed.

-- Marc Staimer, founder and president of Dragon Slayer Consulting

In this business, we're always looking for the next best thing coming down the pike. These new and shiny technologies are sometimes ahead of the needs and price range of many IT pros. Jon pushed back against that and distrusted new technology until it was proven. He advised sticking with proven technologies, such as mainframes and especially tape, when they still fit people's needs. IT pros trusted Jon, and his Storage Decisions sessions were always among the most well-attended with engaged audiences seeking his advice.

-- Dave Raffo, TechTarget executive news director, storage

Jon was always a strong advocate for the IT professional. He kept vendors and analysts on their toes. His opinions on IT were well-thought-out, and while I may not always agree, I always respected them. On a personal level, Jon always took the time to provide advice and guidance to me in the early days of our business. That advice has always proven itself to be valuable. You'll be missed Jon.

-- George Crump, president and founder of Storage Switzerland

It's hard to imagine how little good information was publicly available about enterprise storage 20 years ago. When we first started to build Storage magazine, Storage Decisions and SearchStorage.com, Jon gave us instant expertise on what was then a very obscure subject: disaster recovery. He was always willing to answer storage guys' questions, consider their comments and throw out a couple of provocative statements to get them thinking. People really appreciated finally having access to an independent voice who knew what he was talking about.

-- Mark Schlack, former TechTarget senior vice president of editorial

Jon Toigo was a force. When he spoke at a conference, he was a rock star. And whenever he spoke to me for a story, he gave me time and an interesting perspective, and I appreciated that. He was entertaining -- he clearly enjoyed talking about his area of expertise and debating it with others. He will be missed.

-- Paul Crocetti, TechTarget senior site editor, SearchDataBackup and SearchDisasterRecovery

Jon was always dressed in a dapper way and really stood out in a crowd. He had strong opinions, and this brought a gaggle of followers to him wherever he went. He was truly a larger-than-life figure, and the storage industry is diminished without his presence.

-- Stephen Foskett, founder of Foskett Services, Gestalt IT and Tech Field Day

I only worked with Jon a handful of times, but they were excellent experiences, and before working with him, I certainly knew him by reputation and occasional crossing of paths. He was known for his biting critique, his sharp insights and his informed commentary. He was a sought-after resource for all things storage and data-related. Whether you agreed with him or not, you always knew his opinion was steeped in experience. Folks on my team at ActualTech Media who knew him better, personally describe him as a decent human being with limitless love for his family. While death is tragic at any age, 59 is far too young to go. My thoughts are with his family and friends as they work through their tragic loss.

-- Scott Lowe, managing partner and CEO, ActualTech Media

At events, Jon always had a discussion in progress. People were interested in what he had to say, and even though not always in agreement, the discussions were interesting and lively. For me, Jon was always a great guy to speak with, friendly and enjoyable. He will be well-remembered.

-- Randy Kerns, senior strategist and analyst, storage, Evaluator Group

I had the good fortune of working with Jon for the better part of five years. As anyone with even a passing knowledge of Jon would attest, his passion was, of course, tape backup. Jon would intensely, but wisely, tell anyone who would listen that "TAPE IS NOT DEAD!" While Jon was serious about tape, he never took himself too seriously. He found ways to convey the importance of tape, not only through his written words and numerous speaking engagements, but through his hilarious Storage Wars videos. Anyone who saw them will never forget them, but it was clear that, while he used humor to deliver the message, it was a labor of love. Jon will be missed by everyone who worked with him, but he will never be forgotten.

-- Ed Hannan, former managing editor, Storage magazine

Jon was definitely one of a kind and someone I grew to know well over the years as we worked together on a number of special projects and programs. I loved Jon's sense of humor, his honesty, his quick wit, his knowledge of storage and so much more. He was larger than life and will certainly be missed by all who knew him and learned from him.

-- Al Tiano, director of business development, ActualTech Media

I met Jon while I was working for another technology publication. He was a regular storage columnist, and I was his editor. Although Jon was passionate and somewhat outspoken about his work, he was also humble, kind and down to earth. Even as an accomplished author and technologist, he appreciated the opportunity to write his column and never missed the chance to thank me for my help. Despite Jon's hectic speaking, writing and travel schedule, family was his No. 1 priority, and he often talked about his wife and kids with great pride. I feel privileged to have known and worked with Jon. He definitely left the world a better place.

-- Amy Novotny, senior editor, products, TechTarget

I worked with Jon often over the years, on numerous projects. It is truly rare to find a person who is so knowledgeable in a field and who can write with such clarity about that field. Jon was a professional in every sense of the word, and I'll miss working with him. His quick wit and hilarious stories will be some of the things I'll remember most about this remarkable man.

-- Keith Ward, senior writer and editor, ActualTech Media

Jon Toigo: Author and speaker

You can delve into the vast number of articles and columns Jon Toigo authored on data storage for TechTarget here on his contributor page and check out additional writing, thoughts and opinions on his blog DrunkenData.com. Jon first started writing for TechTarget way back in 2001.

Watch Jon address the pros and cons of software-defined networking and the different faces of SDN vendors and appliance products, as well as the effect of hypervisors on the disaster recovery process at Storage Decisions a few years ago. See Jon expound on traditional storage hierarchy, erasure coding, cloud storage and what to know when considering a data protection plan. You can also see what Jon had to say about keeping tape as part of your organization's disaster recovery policy.

This was last published in March 2019

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