That title is particularly true, when it comes to what one vendor says about another – I would consider it HIGHLY suspect. Apply that to anything I say. That’s why I try my darnest to NOT write blogs that target competitors, but try to focus on the nuts and bolts that are vendor neutral, and content that is useful to VMware/EMC customers and partners. Sometimes I fail. When I do – apply that filter.
Read this post through that filter – which is to say DON’T READ IT.
I’ve said it before, and I bet I’ll say it again – this is what I think:
- Trust your own personal experiences with technology and vendors most of all.
- Next, trust the experiences from friends/colleagues (who are not vendors) you trust.
- Moving further down, be skeptical, but listen to what vendors say to you about their own stuff.
- And at the very, very bottom – be extremely skeptical – almost penalizing them – when a vendor talks about the other their competitor in a negative way, unprompted.
If only customers would consistently do that, the FUD flinging would slow to a crawl and stop – but there’s some deep human instinct behind this, IMO.
Update – 8:10am, 2/11/11. Preston de Guise commented that this sounds like I’m blaming the customer. I can see how it sounds like that (and thanks for the courteous comment Preston). That wasn’t my intent. As much as I try to stop “feature list selling”/”competitive compare tables”, the pressure to produce those things is through the roof. When I don’t do it, others do.
My comment about “deep human instinct” is that I think people use pseudo “rationalist” approaches like this to justify the decisions they made a while ago (based on trust, relationships, and their ‘gut’). So long as customers respond positively to these “checkbox tables” (which are invariably wrong, outdated, and biased out the wazoo), vendors WILL make them. So long as customers ask for/respond to those sort of vendor action (and they do, they absolutely do), SOMEONE will do it.
I guess it’s like the illicit drug business. On one level, it’s wrong to blame the users, as they are the victim, and the pusher/dealer is the criminal. On another level, ONLY the users can actually control what happens – because as so long as there is demand, as soon as one pusher/dealer is incarcerated, another will pop up in their place.
As an interesting note – that’s why within EMC, one of the most important metrics for all our business units is something called a “net promoter score” (which asks a single question: “would you recommend this?”) – since the answer is measure of the network effect of the first 2 bullets.
If going to stick in the blog split here to spare people who are above this fray (sigh, I wish I didn’t have to do this, but what some folks continue to demand it).
My suggestion, DON’T read on unless you are willing to listen to the original comments stated in the webcast, not the summary on The Register and then the subsequent vendor bash summary. the actual original source recording is an incredible insight into EMC (all the way through Goulden, who was particularly interesting)…. Read on if interested (and you really, really shouldn’t be)…
Ok, here’s the scoop (at least from where I sit).
Chris Mellor @ The Register recently wrote a post referring to a short comment (literally based on a blip in a long, wide-ranging discussion) Pat Gelsinger made during the recent EMC Strategic Forum for Institutional Investor Forum. If you want to read Chris’ post, you can read it here. Of course, Chris uses an inflammatory title for his article, and the content takes Pat’s comments out of context to make for entertaining reading. I understand that The Register sees upside if they write blog posts with inflammatory titles that draw eyeballs, and it’s even better if they get the vendors going back and forth (heck, I’m just linked to him, so there you go).
Some (IMO) misguided folks at certain vendors then took Chris’s post out of context even further without listening to them, and before even reading the transcript – and suggesting that Pat’s comments suggested that EMC was acknowledging that they were somehow “ahead”. Sigh. A lot like another recent example where they jumped all over a customer in the EMC Community Network and said “aha! see! I told you so!” (but in the end, the detail and outcome didn’t suit them).
It’s not surprise (at least to me). Look at this survey here on “who tends to go negative”.
IMO, it’s worth pointing out that Chris has written articles for The Register that suggest:
- Compellent was the “FIRST to resell/bundle VMware SRM” here. I’ve dug deep here, and the first storage vendor/non server OEM to resell SRM was actually EMC more than a year earlier.
- HDS is the “First virtualized storage vendor to support VAAI” here. The definition of “virtualized storage vendor” is squishy, but if you take it to mean “arrays that can front other 3rd party arrays”, I think (on this I could be wrong) the first using that crafted definition would have been NetApp v-Series running ONTAP 8.0.1 (which if you wanted to use most of their VMware features, would be in 7-mode). Hitachi VSP was one of the later arrays to support VAAI, so if you want to make a press release, I suppose you would need to somehow craft a definition that makes you “first”. BTW, if you want to understand further why this might be a bad idea, I’d suggest you read this.
Look, I respect Chris. He has a job to do. I think he’s very good at what he does. But, you simply can’t deny that he titles and structures his posts to be short, punchy, and draw eyeballs. Hey, he’s a reporter. I understand that. It’s no different that me having my job.
Rather than listening to a “telephone game” (particularly when one of the links in the chain is a competitor), I’d strongly recommend listening to what Pat said himself (along with other key EMC execs and Paul Maritz also – it’s very good content), which you can listen to here. If you want to download the deck Pat presented, you can do it here.
What Pat said (IMO – again, its out there for you to listen to and come to your own conclusion) was the following (paraphrasing):
- EMC is far out in front in marketshare for storage supporting VMware.
- There are storage features, that while not technically “integration”, that provide value in VMware environments – and therefore create “affinity” in one fashion or another. He pointed out that amongst ALL the features that create VMware affinity, EMC has more than our major competitors. He DID acknowledge that we are not perfect (and not by any means). That’s actually a hint that we’re not arrogant or stupid. Being aware and honest about where there are gaps mean that you’re continually striving for improvement, and if I were a customer, I would demand that from my strategic technology partners. The one VMware affinity storage feature that stands out which EMC does not support in it’s portfolio today is primary storage block-level deduplication. We support primary storage compression (Block and NAS), and file-level deduplication on NAS. In the VMware context, block-level deduplication has a greater net reduction in capacity used than compression or file-level dedupe.
- What that means is the following:
- With customers, EMC and EMC partners need to make the argument that efficiency isn’t measured by a feature, but is measured as an end-to-end metric of how much something costs, how much space/power/cooling it takes.
- Further, we need to educate customers that storage efficiency is sometimes about capacity (“how many GB”) and sometimes about performance (“how many IOps/MBps”) and sometimes about flexibility (“how easy is it for me to change things”).
- Lastly, that efficiency shouldn’t be measured by any one dataset, but the combined dataset that represents all the datasets the customer has.
- These 3 points are the basis of an argument that is very real, very founded in fact. It’s also a fact that every storage vendor approaches this differently, and all have sets of technologies that help. I’ve covered this in depth here (the infamous source of my “life is orthogonal” quote). This public customer example here which also serves to illustrate the competitive tactics employed and how some folks treat customers. There are many examples of customers who have concluded that they agree with our argument. BTW – note the long customer list Pat pointed out who selected EMC for those reasons and more. It’s in his presentation. It’s simpler of course to say “you MUST have this feature!” if you’re in sales and want to keep your message simple. Pat’s point was exactly that. Our argument is a “selling motion” which involves heavy lifting, and requires the customer to look up from competitive feature checklists, which is hard in the world of sales teams wanting “silver bullets” and “talk tracks”.
- BTW, this is one of the core arguments of EMC’s 20% efficiency guarantee which makes it all very simple. In a nutshell – we guarantee we are 20% more efficient, across the total of all your datasets, across any protocol mix, and if we’re wrong, we’ll make up the difference – period. That’s simple.
- He also stated that particular feature (block level primary storage dedupe) will be released in the 2nd half of
20102011 (UPDATE: 8:17 am ET on 2/11/11 – an obvious typo) - on EMC platforms. Note – this doesn’t conflict in ANY WAY with the argument we’re discussing with customers today. It will broaden our capabilities, and improve our already great end-to-end efficiency (in all 3 efficiency vectors). Everything that can be done to be as efficient as possible, across the broadest dataset, in the simplest way is something we all as technology vendors need to do – continually. That cycle of ongoing innovation helps customers.
- What that means is the following:
- It’s also worth noting that he discussed VMware integration specifically. There are things vendors can do that are actually integration (ergo actual code/API/plugin/VMware Appliances, etc) as opposed to simply having “affinity”. Pat shared EMC’s strong lead on this front – with significantly more integration than our mainstream competition (remember, apply that filter I mentioned right up top). This only gets more in EMC’s favor when you realize that EMC is much more than a storage vendor, and you look at backup integration points within and beyond storage, security, management and more.
Listen – I really wish that we didn’t have this bizzarro dynamic in storage land where everyone goes at each other like mad.
Clearly, many of us (not just EMC) are doing very, very well, which does not happen if you aren’t doing things right for your customers. In 2010, we had a record setting year, doing $17B in revenues, with huge growth and good margins. Those are all signs that we’re doing many things (not everything) right.
Let’s keep things positive, shall we?