Is Legacy the issue?

Meeting with numerous customers, you see all spectrums of Infrastructure that customers cling to from the end of life hardware to the out of support software and hardware.

But the key is which of those customers understand they have these ancient bits of technology but are proactively moving away from them and then there are those that cling to them like comfort blankets.

The customer that uses their old technology like a comfort blanket is a technology guys worst nightmare in my opinion, because that old technology holds that customer back and causes issues long term. However, they do not see it that way they see the issue with companies selling them stuff and feel the responsibility is with vendors to make sure their technology works with the ancient hardware/software they use.

To a certain extent, technology companies should make sure their offerings work with older Hardware/Software but you have to draw the line somewhere especially when the older kit is from another vendor.

Whose responsibility is it the customer, legacy vendor or new vendor?

This is a tough question to answer because all 3 parties involved have different opinions on this.

Customer – It’s both vendors issue but most view the new vendor as the one who needs to make sure that anything they provide works with the legacy technology. At the end of the day the customer wants the easy option for them which may well be to hang onto that old technology as well as buy new.

Legacy Vendor – To a certain extent they will make sure that any new technology they provide works with the legacy part, but there does come a point where even they will struggle and have to say “No” to the customer. However, when a new vendor is involved then the legacy one washes their hands and its up to the new guy now.

New Vendor – This is the unlucky guy in all of this, as they are trying to sell new technology to a customer who has legacy, and sometimes that customer does not want to part with their comfort blanket of old “stuff”. The only choices open to the vendor at this point are either agree to support the old functioning with the new or walk away from a sale, or if they are very lucky persuade the customer into a migration plan away from the old technology.

Does cloud solve or make it more complicated?

If we go back to basics and look at what Cloud actually is:

Cloud computing is the next stage in the Internet’s evolution, providing the means through which everything — from computing power to computing infrastructure, applications, business processes to personal collaboration — can be delivered to you as a service wherever and whenever you need.

So why would Cloud solve the legacy issue, some providers claim that by moving to “Cloud” that customers don’t need to worry about the legacy issue because it doesn’t matter that you have old versions of software/hardware all of this can be accommodated in the “Cloud” where you don’t need to worry about it.

Some of the benefits of moving a section of business applications to the “Cloud” are taking advantage of Multi-Tenancy so that a business does not have to pay inflated hosting costs by having their own hardware dedicated to them. However if that business also has legacy hardware and software and applications that are coded to specific hardware and software then the cost saving from Multi-Tenancy is unable to be realised.

There have been a recent flurry of articles about hosting providers actually saying no to some customers with regards to legacy technology and applications, because the customer themselves didn’t really understand the application and so the risk to a hosting company is too great. Some say we can take the application but we cannot give you an SLA for that particular application.

Conclusions

Before even considering a full movement to the “Cloud” companies need to look at themselves from a IT Infrastructure perspective but also people and process and their data classification. It was once said the biggest obstacle to moving to the “Cloud” was Security, while that may still be one of the top reasons I also believe that companies legacy applications and hardware are also stopping them.

There are companies out there that offer migration services but then a business needs to truly understand the pain and length of the migration roadmap before diving into a program of work, which could take months if not longer. Coupled with hosting costs and everything else that may well make the ROI unattractive to many businesses.

If you have legacy applications but they can run on new hardware inside a virtualized container then the “Cloud” is an option for you. However, if that application is coded to specific legacy hardware also, then the “Cloud” could well be fraught with high costs and a migration roadmap that could make the whole “Cloud” prospect very unattractive to a business.

Therefore, its time for companies to really take a hard look at that legacy “stuff” and decide is our comfort blanket providing any real value to us or is it the blocker to gaining greater business agility!

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It’s not always the new Storage announcements you need to listen to!

Well some people where disappointed with EMC World 2013 in that it did not follow the trend of 2012 and announce lots of new products. So those people are probably satisfied a little now with the announcements made this month by EMC. I for one still believe EMC World 2013 was a success and was perfect for the CTO/CIO/CFO/CMO people in this world and it’s those guys that companies like EMC need to appeal to as well as the techie guys in sandals and sporting huge beards (a huge stereotype there I know it).

This post was supposed to be dispatched on launch date but I have actually been busy doing my normal day job as a Senior SE and there has been a lot going on in that space as well maybe that warrants a post at some point.

So really a few announcements by EMC and I will try to cover the main ones as I see it in 1 post, I have noticed that others have split them into separate posts but they go deep dive into certain areas and for those that read my blog I don’t generally do technical deep dive.

I have also ordered them differently and that’s because I see them having different effects on the market so I am finishing off with the announcement I see as being the most critical for EMC and its customers. Again, this is only a personal opinion and not one of EMC or any of its Execs. However, it did take a while to decide between 2 of them as to which I saw as the top announcement and I might well change my mind over time as both areas progress.

XtremSW 2.0 & Appsync 1.5 (with Next-Gen VNX support)

The XtremeSW is the latest release of the software associated with the XtremSF PCIe Flash technology that EMC sell.

AppSync is included in the VNX Application Protection Suite, Total Efficiency Pack and Total Protection Pack. In essence, it delivers application level protection utilizing VNX Advanced Snapshots and Recoverpoint for applications like, SQL, Exchange and Sharepoint. The tool also offers protection for VM’s pm VMFS and NFS.

Dom’s Opinion

The AppSync tool is included in any of the VNX bundles that were listed above and definitely are a great asset for people wanting that application level protection for things like SQL and Exchange. Therefore, I would say that generally people will get this tool in a bundle but I would encourage people to use it and not just have the ability to do so but also actually benefit from the bundled software EMC give with VNX. They do not bundle stuff just to make you think you are getting a good sale they do it because there are benefits to using those tools for customers.

Next Generation VNX

Yes I see this as being positioned here, I know people are reading thinking surely this is the big announcement but not for me, maybe at the moment yes, but the other 2 announcements I feel have far wide impact than this one moving forward.

A bit like the HP EVA it needed a refresh but HP killed the platform, EMC have given the VNX a total rewrite and designed the system as if it was a new one from scratch. This is a great way to do things and they have built the new VNX with the intention of making it the best Platform for customers they can and that needed the rewrite not an update to the previous version.

The new parts of a VNX can be broken down into:

• Performance increases some down to the rewrite of the software and the platform but others just down to the fact the hardware in the VNX range has been refreshed also. (Latest Intel Sandy Bridge processors)
• Dedupe has been brought into the platform something EMC did not really do before in this product.
• MCx is the rewrite of the core software around the block abstraction stack within a VNX, this is something totally new in the market around the way EMC have written this and how they are moving forward in this space.
• NAS improvements also
• More of the Unisphere product set now included with the platform which before customers had to buy as an addition they now get these great products included.

Dom’s Opinion

The Next Generation VNX announcement was not the most important update that was announced, it really does take the VNX platform to new levels and offers customers a powerful & scalable new platform from EMC. The VNX guys will be saying “What this was the biggest announcement we made its amazing”, and yes while it is a great new product and I have actually sold 2 of these to customers so far, I still don’t see it as what I see as “game changing”.

The next generation VNX really does give EMC a product to compete at the highest level against the likes of NetApp in that unified space, and the customer I have sold it to love it and will actually be ordering 2 more before the end of the year as part of a Data Centre consolidation project.

Project Nile

Now I will say it again it is my opinion only and not an EMC view that I see the Nile announcement as a key one out of the group of things announced by EMC this month, not the game changer but not far off and it may well turn out to be that as time progresses.

I will hold my hands up and say I stole the picture as I like to include more pics in my posts and saw this was used elsewhere and thought I know I will use that one. The below is prototype of Nile.

Nile

Project Nile is taking VMAX Cloud Edition and applies the principles more generally in the market across all of the storage platforms EMC has to offer.

Therefore, if we take the whole suite of products from Isilon, VNX, Atmos, Data Domain and XtremIO all sit behind ViPR so offering a full array of workloads and data types to customers, behind a very powerful piece of software that I see as one of the game changers in the EMC Arsenal.
Nile is then about utilizing that huge storage resource and being able to build around it the consumption model and a service catalog so that customers of a Service Provider or even Business Units within and Enterprise Customer can take advantage of that huge storage resource easily, effectively and efficiently.

Dom’s Opinion

Can you imagine having a multitude of storage arrays and some commodity hardware across a data center and you need to provision everything from SAN, NAS & Object across that infrastructure. At the same time, having different service levels across the disk tiers within some of those arrays.
But then what you need to do with all of that storage that you provision is then be able to consume it in an effective and efficient manner without having hundred of people managing complicated “charge back” and consumption models but also maintain and update the service catalog in line with the storage sat behind ViPR.

This is where Nile will prove a real asset, just as VMAX Cloud Edition has really provided a great addition to the VMAX family by filling a gap for Service Providers and for Customers who want to run ITaaS internally by providing an array with a defined service catalog and consumption models.

Nile will take this across the portfolio of EMC Products, definitely one to watch for the future and perhaps an announcement in Vegas 2014 who knows!

ViPR General Availability

ViPR will allow customers to manage both their existing storage infrastructure and the data residing with it, and so help drive improvements in automation. As you would expect it will support EMC Storage and at launch will allow for NetApp support and more will come on stream including commodity hardware.

Dom’s Opinion

It was a tough call placing this here but I was one of the people in Vegas this year when EMC spoke about ViPR that thought “Yes this is something that is needed and will really drive the journey towards SDDC”
This for me was the key announcement from EMC, the vision and idea that we heard about in Vegas and some of us thought “please tell us this is real and we wont be waiting till EMC World 2014” can sign with relief as pricing has been released and it will be available in October to purchase.
ViPR for is the game changer that EMC has for the market, the ultimate remote control to cover all of your storage platforms from differing vendors and even down to commodity storage.
ViPR is for storage what VMware was for compute and this is just the beginning of the story so expect a lot more fantastic announcements to come around this product moving forward.

Closing Comments

Lets start by being clear here, the above post is an opinion and not one of EMC or its Execs, and there will be people who disagree with me and I am glad of that.# If people they didn’t disagree it would mean I was just following a standard message without an opinion and that would never be good, as one of my older posts states, at EMC we are not Clones we maybe Minions but not Clones!

A great month for EMC and some awesome announcements some better than others I feel but all show that EMC is definitely not sitting back on it laurels as people thought after EMC World but they are still innovating ahead of the competition and driving the SDDC message with products like ViPR and Project Nile.

So yet another exciting chapter in the story that is EMC and I am pleased to be a part of it.

EMC Geek Week

Currently I am 32,500ft above the Atlantic on my way to Chicago, for what promises to be an interesting week. For the next week I am going to be in Atlanta for EMC Geek Week, which at the moment all I know about it is that it involves a weeklong case study with a presentation to be given at the end of the week.

This week is supposed to follow on from New Hire and Professional Skills week, so should involve meeting old faces, however I missed my original week as it was far too close to EMC World. So currently I actually do not know any of the attendees, so a perfect networking opportunity, which is the way, I treat all events I attend.

Initial thoughts are that it will fly past unlike this American Airlines flight into Chicago which appears to be dragging along at a snails pace.

Finally Arrive in Atlanta

Atlanta

Well I finally did make it into Atlanta thank goodness, I have never had a flight drag as much as the one into Chicago did on Saturday, but the internal flight was quick enough and Sunday is a day of rest, so did some wandering around Duluth which is outside Atlanta but the EMC office is based here.

Monday

Early morning start for me with some calls before I head to the training, always nice early mornings when I am in the US as there are still calls and meetings to be had with guys in the UK who are 5hrs ahead of me.

Great kickoff to “Geek Week” with a presentation by Mike Phelan, a really interesting guy who has progressed through the ranks internally at EMC and a great person to discuss my career with and direction that I want to take and use him as a sounding board.
You don’t get these opportunities often to meet with people at this level so the idea I have followed since joining EMC and even before that, is if an opportunity arises then grab it, because it might not be there again for a long time.
So that’s what I did and booked in for a meeting Tuesday with him, he seemed quite surprised someone asked to meet with him but was happy to suggest a time so great, can’t wait for that.

The idea of “Geek Week” is to involve technology but also other stuff, I cannot go into details, as they do not like people knowing before they do it. However, the format is a good one as far as I am concerned and teaches the EMC presales what they need to know to be successful long term. All of the training I have had at EMC internally so far has been very beneficial for me in one-way or another.

A good day overall deciding on aspects of our presentation on Thursday and time for refreshment when the day was done.

I managed to end up having the services of a designated driver this evening, only 4 of us from the class where meeting up but Lori Schlesman who is one of the facilitators of the new hire onboarding classes in EMC PreSales was joining us and offered to drive. Another one of the facilitator’s McCall Peltier also joined us.

A quite evening turned into a very jovial affair and I was in hysterics when we decided to have a group photo, in which I think the 4 of us guys all look a little worse after the effects of leaving the food part of dinner till late.

Monday geek week
Photo – From Left (McCall Peltier, Lori Schlesman, Dominic Cody, Ryan Makamson, Corbin Mills) At the Back (Adam Robyak)

Tuesday

An early start again with more calls with guys in the UK, so no rest for me after last night, but I feel good. I love drive thru Starbucks in the US, we need to get more in the UK, so easy grabbing breakfast on the way to the office for a day of preparing for presentation on Thursday.

Also the day of my meeting with Mike Phelan and a great meeting it was, really helped me to map out my career path and confirm the choices I was looking to make long term for my career at EMC. Gave me food for thought as well but also helped me with the strategy I need to take back in the UK and offered his advice and assistance should I need it again.

A long day today with lots to do but as a team, I think we really moved forward and we are ahead of where we need to be which is great.

Cisco presentation as well today followed by drinks out, but after last night, it is going to be an easier night for me. The Cisco event finished early and the same group from Monday night with two additions decided to head to a Cuban Restaurant but I was struggling to stay awake over dinner.

Wednesday

Last day for preparation before presentations need to be given over 90 minutes tomorrow and yet again I am on early morning calls, this time 5am so not good at all. The usual drive thru Starbucks on the way to the office, and the lady at the window has seen me for the past 3 days now and asks me how I am doing. Always friendly service, the last time I tried a drive thru Starbucks in the UK the friendly demeanor was definitely not there.

A busy day today with lots to finish, I spent the morning pulling the slide deck together into a format that we can use tomorrow.

We took a team break to go get props for the presentation as we had been told to keep it fun and not play it too straight and have fun with the presentation and the way we play it; we took them at their word on that, as you will see from the team photo shortly.

It does seem that some people socialize more than others on these things, I have been lucky on new hire and professional skills where most people joined me at bars and things but that’s not the same with all classes. Once again, the six usual suspects met up for drinks and dinner with two additions again.

Thursday

Day of the presentations and an early start once again at 6am for me with calls, and then usual Starbucks on way to the office. We have chosen to go second so the first group does their 90 minutes first and then its time for us.

The lady from the canteen and others come round to see us before we head into the room as we are all wearing our props and it must have looked quite a sight. I think a lot thought what are these guys doing, but we where determined to have fun.

When we entered the room I am not, sure people knew what to think but we got many laughs and it lightened the mood definitely and we all managed to complete our parts of the presentation even with our newfound headgear.

Group photo had to be done at the end before we all started to head off.

team geek week
Photo from Left – (Jose Torrentera Garay, Sterling Gee, Sergey Bocharnikov, Dominic Cody, Adam Robyak, Corbin Mills, Simon Nielsen, Sebastian Schmidt, Rodrigo Caldeira, Ryan Makamson)

It always surprises me how a bunch of techies as a lot this week are always end up pulling together and having a great time as a group, even when some have never been in that group previously. As was the case this week, I had never met this group, as they are all new hires and did the new hire week together but I had a blast over the course of “Geek Week”.

Final Thoughts

When everyone else left on Thursday I was left with some interesting thoughts really about the week, the EMC new hire and onboarding process is an interesting one really and really does give you a great introduction to this company I work for.

The whole thing where guys who have never met before hang out socially and can have a great laugh is a fantastic experience when starting in a new company this large. But then is it just at these sorts of week where it happens, no definitely not, because at EMC World, I met up with some guys from my new hire and we had an extreme time in Vegas and I count those guys as my friends. That’s the main difference between EMC and where I have worked previously the people you meet at EMC and socialize with are friends you carry with you in your career and not just someone you recognize when you meet up at corporate events. But that’s only if you want to do that, there are some who don’t want to have friends at work and see it is a professional and clinical environment.

Then I do wonder is it just EMC US that is like that, as the new hire stuff is all run in the US it is hard to comment on whether the same thing would happen n the UK. I do not think people would have as much fun with it in the UK or maybe I am being unkind, but I just think it would not happen in the same fun way.

The one thought and kind of a fear I do have in my mind is that unless you are based in the US and seen at a corporate level then you will struggle to get to the top in this company and others really. This was discussed in my meeting on Tuesday with Mike Phelan and he disagreed and gave good examples of UK people who are now at the Exec level within EMC, but I do feel that to get there you need to make sure you get yourself into a position where doors open easier for you.

Only time will tell if my theory is right and if I manage to get those doors opened but as is always the case on my EMC journey so far, it is going to be one hell of a ride!

So are we all just clones!

Over the past 15 years I have either worked for large global companies or had interaction with the staff from those companies. Now working for EMC, I have been asked by a number of my peers the same question – “aren’t you all just corporate clones, each following the company profile?”

What is a corporate clone?

20130730-065718.jpg

In the 1990s the idea of a corporate clone was very much alive and kicking, especially in the area of consultancy, the so called “Big 4” definitely had this mentality and I would add that I still believe at least one of those still has that mentality today.

Characteristics are definitely:

– Similar if not the same suit.
– Identical views and opinions on topics.
– An attitude of “Go Company Yeah”
– Willing to sell their Granny if it would make the company money.

Really in IT?

The opinion that it was more consultancy types that carried this whole idea of being clones, is incorrect in my view and there are striking examples across technology companies where the same persona existed.

Within IT I think the corporate clone existed on 2 levels:

The Sales Guy – Perfect replica of the corporate idea of a sales guy, not in looks obviously but appearances yes, similar suit and each one driven to selling in the same mould with no deviation away from a corporate template. Quite scary but in their day these guys sold hard and sold well, it worked for that time, customers where not interested in anything outside of how fast and how cheap they could get things.

The Techie/PreSales Consultant – Now these guys were easy to spot, maybe not the same suit but definitely all saying the same company buzz words and speech around technology. You could guarantee get 4 of these in a room they would all have identical ideas, even if you asked each the same question in isolation all very boring and no real deviation from what they had been told by corporate.

Does the clone employee exist today?

It would be good to say no definitely not that companies have advanced since the 90s and don’t have the corporate clone idea, but it does still exist today and still within IT without a doubt. You still get the Sales Guy and Techie persona within certain organisations. However I do feel that customers in general have changed and don’t want a clone to sell them something faster and cheaper, they want someone to give real world thinking to solutions proposed. If companies and individuals don’t adapt they will be left behind, but there are still pockets of them out there today.

So what about EMC!

At EMC we all strive towards similar goals without question, but that doesn’t make us clones we do have similar goals in wanting to achieve the best for our customers and lead them down the right path for them when it comes to technology and advancement. Yes we may all talk about Cloud, Big Data, Trust and the road to SDDC. But each of us talks about it in a different way, with our own spin on it and each having ideas on topics that are different to other people and the corporate message.

If I had to describe EMC PreSales for instance, I see us really more as…………….

“Minions”

20130730-065956.jpg

That’s right I think the minion analogy describes us perfectly, there may be people now reading my blog internally head in hands thinking “who is this guy, what an idiot” but there will be others thinking he is right that’s us.

Let’s think about it, within EMC PreSales there are a large number of us, and we do all strive towards similar goals, however we are individuals each with a personality that has things that differentiate us from the crowd. But together we are a force and a force of change paving the way for our customers to reach outcomes they want to achieve and helping to build solutions that are different depending on the customer needs.

So if you are sat there in a company and looking around thinking we are a bunch of clones, look over the fence at the guys from EMC and think to yourself, “Yeah I wanna be a minion, that looks like fun” and believe me it is fun and a hell of a ride!

Is it still all about the Storage?

It does seem that even though EMC have a huge marketing machine and have diversified and positioned themselves in key areas; TRUST, BIG DATA & Cloud.  In the end it always comes back to the same comment:

“Aren’t you guys a storage company”?

Yes EMC do offer storage and in fact a large portfolio of industry leading products shown in the diagram below:

Slide1

 

But EMC has developed into so much more than a storage company and people who still believe that’s all EMC does need educating and helping to understand the wider offerings.

I will post something on where I see EMC sitting today in the marketplace over the next few weeks that will address all the components of the company.

What if we could do this for you?

If a customer asks what storage can we buy for this application then this should open up further dialogue around that application, and will also show them that EMC offers more than just the storage.  But I still believe there are a number of revert to type people within EMC and other companies who don’t probe further and ask any questions and just throw a storage config and quote over the fence to the customer.  This means that a huge opportunity is lost not just to educate a customer around what can be offered but also around making inroads into other parts of that customer’s organization.

Just imagine for a moment if the customer asked the question:

“I need a storage array for some VDI users as we are deploying VDI for a proportion of our mobile workforce can you help?”

Now lets imagine this is an electricity company in the UK, makes it easier as I am from the UK but the ground level principles can be applied elsewhere.

I shudder when I think that a number of people would just size up a piece of storage for this, when in fact they should be developing more detail and understanding of the bigger picture and outcome that company is looking to achieve.

Let’s just follow a short script highlighting some questions and to show how this could develop correctly: 

What are the mobile workforce using from an application perspective?
They are using metering/recording and monitoring applications for our business, so that they can read smart meters in locations across the regions we cover and also deliver a better service to customers.

Are you planning on using the data captured from those meters?
Yes but we are just going to store that data on some storage somewhere and have not really discussed the growth or requirements for that, but can you assist us with mapping this out? 

Do you want customers to be able to utilize that data?
Well we hadn’t really considered that as an option but actually if customers can see that data over time and also receive alerts from the meter if a problem occurs with supply; this gives us an advantage over our competitors and could attract more customers and help us retain the ones we do have.

 

But doesn’t that mean it leads back to Storage?

Yes it may well lead back to some storage and the result could be a VNX Array with some XtremeIO to run VDI for the mobile workforce, but it also then leads to a large Isilon (I know more Storage) deployment to house smart metering data.  Followed by interaction with Pivotal to develop applications to utilize that big data they are capturing with those smart meters, and even maybe a GreenPlum interaction and all of that held together with an offering from RSA to wrap around TRUST.

Which then may well drive customer satisfaction and profit for that electricity company, because they are using that data to develop new offerings on the web or just in general customer service enhancements.

When you look at it that way, the customer wins and EMC wins also, and all because more questions were asked around:

 

–       What are you looking to achieve both for your users and your business?

–       What applications are involved?

–       What are you planning to do with that data captured?

So in the example given not just storage, yes its there but then it is the commodity piece in the whole discussion as the customer makes no headway by just purchasing VNX and Isilon, ok they make their IT users happy but its by the further interaction and relationship with EMC around Pivotal, GreenPlum and RSA that they make leaps in customer satisfaction and also profit.

So has EMC positioned itself correctly for the next Phase?

At the moment EMC has positioned itself at the forefront of the key areas around Big Data/Cloud/TRUST and now Software Defined Data Center, this will take EMC as a company long-term from not just a provider of commodity products such as Storage, because I really do feel they will become a commodity.  But it will position EMC as one of the leaders in the area of providing tool sets to control the commodity products and allow our customers to implement a true SDDC.

The biggest issue for EMC and others in this space is that the message coming from the top is very clear on the roadmap and strategy for the company, however when you get down to the every day sales guys and consultants; I am still yet to be convinced that they understand the strategy and a large number will revert to type which means the age-old comment will always be there:

“Aren’t you guys a storage company”?

Disclaimer:
I feel the need to say here that this post is my view and my perception and not the view of EMC as an organization.

Isilon & Data Domain Confusion!

There seems to be customer confusion around certain product sets, I have met with 2 customers recently who both asked the same question:

Is your strategy for Backup/Archive Isilon or Data Domain?

The fact is we have great products in lots of areas and there is going to be overlap, but not where it should be confusing for customers, as that doesn’t help us as a company.

Lets look at the 2 products briefly and look at what they both actually are:

Isilon

The Isilon product is a NAS device in simple terms, but a highly scalable NAS that can scale in both storage and performance, depending on the type of nodes you add to a cluster.

The Isilon product does have different node types and there are 2 nodes that I believe cause the confusion around Backup/Archive:

Backup Accelerator Nodes – These are basically HBA connections for the Isilon, but to enable the Isilon to do NDMP Backup to a VTL device, not to act as a Backup target.

NL Nodes – These are huge storage capacity nodes, that can be used to store data within a cluster depending on the smartpool policy. The idea here is to allow for moving legacy data that has not been accessed in some time on an Isilon cluster down to cheaper cost effective storage within the cluster.

Data Domain

Data Domain is an Enterprise leading De-Duplication Backup device with industry leading throughput, deduplication and performance, to be used as an ip target for backups or as a VTL (Virtual Tape Library).

However the Data Domain product is not a NAS device, I have seen a customer use it as a file storage target to house data on a temporary basis but really that’s not a primary use for the product, its an Enterprise leading Backup Device not NAS.

So Why The Confusion?

In some circumstances Isilon using NL nodes to archive of the data that hasn’t been accessed for some time and then carrying out replication to further clusters and having no backup is actually not only a good solution but in some cases the only solution. I owned the reference architecture for storage at a company where the Isilon clusters where 600TB in size and predicted to grow to 1.2PB within the first 18mths. With data in that proportion using normal backup methods and meeting SLA’s is not an option.

However that does not mean that Isilon should replace Data Domain for backup, the use of Data Domain to carry out backup is still the primary way people should look to get a fast backup and industry leading restore carried out.

With Archive then Isilon is a great product using it`s NL nodes to carry out that use for a customer, but then if a customer wants to meet certain regulatory requirements then Centera is still the platform of choice. But Data Domain is not an archive product, and really should not be used as a long term archive destination, it has an Enterprise leading place in the Backup field and that is where it should be placed.

Dare I say that a great deal of the confusion is down to the products coming from 2 different areas internally and both areas have targets to hit and sometimes the customer doesn’t give clear direction as to what exactly they are looking for.

The Winning Game!

We are all about industry leading, winning products that are the best in their product market at EMC, and both Isilon and Data Domain are definitely leading the way in their areas.

Both products have there place in a stack for customers and there are uses where Isilon should be used instead of Data Domain but only for certain use cases and not for everything.

The key to all of this is what is the customer looking to achieve and what is their Infrastructure landscape today and what is the roadmap for that landscape, using that info then build a winning proposition that may well use just Data Domain or a combination of the 2 products. The use of both can be a great solution and currently for a customer we are doing just that in some work I am doing, it’s a great example of different product teams pulling together to form a winning solution for the customer.

So if you are ever in conversations around Isilon and Data Domain remember there is no confusion they are both industry leading products that in silo give the customer a great solution, but combined can build a winning solution if addressing the customers requirements.

The Secret Sauce!

Where this post started is important to explain to give the reasoning behind it, but is probably mainly understood by UK people or maybe foodies, you see I have you intrigued now don’t I?

I was watching a television programme this week called “Rick Stein’s India”, for anyone who doesn’t know Rick Stein is a famous Chef based in Cornwall in the south of the UK, in fact you can’t get much further south. While also having numerous restaurants he also makes television programme’s every few years about travels around a particular country or continent and this new series is based on India.

You are reading this and thinking where is he going with this, but we will get there I promise.

Anyway in this first episode this week he was discussing with a group of people from Calcutta what the word “Curry” means to them, as it’s a Western word and doesn’t actually truly exist in Indian cuisine. There where answers around meat, sauce, soup, vegetables but each person giving a different answer to the last. And so he discovered that “Curry” is actually a blend of many different things depending on your point of view, but the staple ingredients where the same across the board that in essence you needed meat or veg but then the key was the sauce that blended it all together and gave you the finished product.

I keep a pad everywhere in the house or my iPad is always handy but there is always something for me to scribble with so that if I have an idea and want to write it down for reference then I can. You may be amused to know or maybe not that tonight’s implement of choice was a “Pink, fairy wand pen with a fluffy feather on the top” my daughters that was on the kitchen table next to a pad.

This idea of a secret sauce can be applied to IT and not just one area but the main area I am going to focus on is SDS.

So what is true SDS?

Software-defined Storage abstracts storage from hardware, making storage a pooled and freely exchangeable resource across physical boundaries. Allows the storage admin to control how data is deployed, provisioned and managed through software, enabling industry standard hardware to be used.

Benefits of SDS

The key benefit has to be cost reduction but there are numerous benefits associated with true SDS other than the lower cost, these are:

• Abstraction – separation of the data from the data control layers.

• Ubiquity – widely available and work with all major protocols.

• SLA/Application Aware – Ability to inherit SLA requirements from the compute level.

• Co-residence – Allow for Compute, Storage and Networking to be run on the same compute boxes.

Where are we on the Journey?

We are at an early stage in the journey of SDS and have blogged about the overall journey to SDDC recently in

The view I have of SDS is that we are only a year into a cycle that is going to last another 3yrs to reach the true state of SDS

Where do I see EMC in this space?

The announcement of ViPR at EMC World 2013, has firmly announced EMC’s intention to push ahead with SDS and also SDDC of which SDS is a part. However I may disagree with numerous people internally but as this blog is my own and not a corporate controlled blog then this is my own opinion. I truly see ViPR that was announced in Vegas this year as a release 0.3 and not a true full product as yet, it’s the starter for SDS for EMC and there needs to be enhancement before I see it as an official full release as a play towards SDS.

I did see something on “The Register” today around EMC buying ScaleIO an Israeli startup that makes Elastic Converged Storage ECS, which basically turns direct attached storage on one or more servers into shared block level access storage. So we are moving towards pushing our SDS offering and I see a major release on the roadmap towards this potentially next EMC World.

In general I see EMC as being mid way through the shift from “Tin” seller to transforming the business to offer customers SDDC options but also game changing software packages that don’t rely on EMC hardware and allow customers to buy Servers, Networks, Hypervisor & Storage from anyone.

So are we like a “Curry”, maybe we are we can provide bits of the ingredients but do we actually care as we also provide that “Secret Sauce” that blends the elements together and that is where EMC is maneuvering itself into being the leader for current and future customers in their journey to SDDC.