[UPDATE: 3/9/2014, 7:19pm ET] Phew – this post has triggered lots of feedback. I’m a big believer in the power of being open, transparent, always. It’s the best way I know to share, to learn, to communicate at scale. A part of that is that inevitably, people read into your words and project their own viewpoint.
Sometimes being public means readers subscribe an intent to you that you don’t… which sucks.
Some have felt that this post was in some way patronizing to VMware (“Father EMC talking down to VMware”), which was absolutely not in my heart as I wrote it. In fact, throughout, I tried to capture the fact that VSAN (and software-only stacks from within EMC and more broadly in the industry) are disrupting the technologies and business models of incumbents (EMC included!) – and those who don’t adapt (in spite of risk to established business models) will be in trouble. I think this is one of the most powerful things in the “Federation” business model of VMware/EMC/Pivotal/RSA – each being free to innovate and disrupt, in spite of how the other parties may feel about it, and also free to collaborate as partners. The biggest risk in high-tech is not disrupting yourself, and the Federation model is a “risk absorber” for this (though sometimes frustrating).
To VMware folks that read any message that sounds “patronizing” message into my words, look into your hearts, wipe your minds/hearts, and re-read. You might just be “projecting” something onto my words that are not there. You are the 800lb gorilla now (with all the good and bad that comes into it – many hate the 800lb gorilla no matter what). Fear (and fight) any arrogance you find in yourselves and within your ranks. EMC still pays the steep price for the arrogance we exhibited in the early 90’s where we had a similar market position as VMware does now. When we still exhibit that arrogance (though far in the past, and now rare – occasionally it still manifests) – it is bad and inevitably hurts us. Beware – down that path lies the dark side. That’s not you.
More often, and more importantly, being public means readers correct you, and add to your understanding, which ROCKS, and more than makes up for any bad from the above. In particular, Duncan, thanks for your comments, Frank also.
I’m constantly learning – and feedback on the topics of kernel space vs. user/guest space storage stacks was very enlightening. People also gave me feedback on VSAN specifics, correcting some things I didn’t have right. Some people gave feedback that I still disagree with, and will note.
I’ve updated the blog to the best of my ability (may hurt “readability”, but will be a more accurate picture”) – and IMO, that’s the power of “be open, be transparent”. Please enjoy!
Also – I’m technically on vacation this week, and my beautiful wife and children will rip my head off if I don’t put down my laptop and surf :-) Comments always welcome – but don’t be angry if I don’t post/comment for a few days :-)
As always – this blog (and the thoughts and opinions expressed) are mine, not an EMC blog. I reiterate this because there will likely be some things in here some of my colleagues will likely disagree with – and I’m sure will conflict with some marketing/positioning. Consider yourself warned :-)
Today brings the official launch of VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) – with the GA date following extremely shortly. IMO – this is going to end up being a “big thing” relatively quickly.
I really want to say in the strongest way I can – I want to offer my personal congratulations to the VSAN team that has brought this to market. For those on the inside or close by – it’s been a long journey (but not abnormal for a distributed persistence layer – one of the harder things in the world to engineer – and I’ve done startups that do that – it ain’t easy). By my reckoning, it’s been about four, maybe five years of hard work from first ideas to reality (the idea of VMware having a native persistence layer dates back to the Diane era). In the last year, the team has been working their tail off – and they should be very proud. They’ve made something that will disrupt the industry, and delight customers.
As with NSX (which made VMware a networking vendor by any way you want to measure it), VSAN makes VMware a storage vendor. I would argue that frankly they’ve been a storage vendor for a while (VMFS is filesytem, aggregates and abstracts block storage devices + vSphere replication + data services like thin, snapshots, linked clones provide a value not dissimilar to storage dedupe and they’ve been in the policy business with VASA and SPBM for a while). Ditto with networking (distributed vSwitches, increasing vSwitch functionality matching some of what customers expect from L2 switches, and frankly less successful past attempts to deliver L4-L7 services).
But – as with NSX, VSAN crosses some sort of “Rubicon”. VMware now participates with an offer in the actual persistence layer itself. In a very real sense VMware is now in competition with the storage ecosystem. More correctly VMware is now in “coopetition” (partnering and competing at the same time) with the storage ecosystem. I think VSAN will disrupt the whole ecosystem. VSAN will disproportionately impact ecosytem players that are: storage only vendors, hyperconverged storage stacks, low-entry (not because it doesn’t scale, but because of economics and adoption), and VMware-only storage stacks.
Rest assured, you’ll start to hear a lot of people talk about what’s bad about VSAN – always a hint that something is going on :-).
So, if there will lot of positioning by both “traditional external storage vendors” (I’m sure there will be from EMC in the field – though the team is working to make sure we support), and positioning (probably some OVER positioning) from VMware (you can see some of it here in Chuck’s blog) – where’s my head?
Here’s a quick summary of my personal opinion:
- It IS NOT an accurate statement to say that VSAN is “better” or “performs better” because it’s embedded in the kernel.
- It IS NOT an accurate statement to say (as a general statement) that VSAN is lower CAPEX than external storage – though it IS accurate that it offers a compelling CAPEX picture in many use cases.
- It IS an accurate statement that VSAN is a quantum leap in simplicity, integrated management and VM-level operations/management.
- It IS an accurate statement that VSAN is an example of a “hyper-convergence” architecture – and these architectures can be compelling in certain use cases.
- It IS an accurate statement that VSAN is a great new option for a lot of customers.
Read on for my 2 cents, and some explanation of my (I’m sure incendiary to some – not my intent to offend) statements!