Much has been made about disruptive technologies and such in our technology world. Due to its competitiveness, those of us in the storage biz tend to hear the word "disruption" more often than not.
EMC was significantly disrupted back in 2001 when the market shifted abruptly. As a result, we vowed "never again", and started investing to be the disruptor rather than the disruptee.
Life Comes At You Fast
Disruption can take many forms, and come from many directions. Yes, there's the primary focus on disruptive technologies, but there are also disruptive business models, disruptive acquisitions, disruptive alliances and so on.
We consider them all.
We think enterprise flash drives are a great example of disruptive technology -- it separates the men from the boys, so to speak.
We thought server virtualization was a disruptive technology way back in 2003, hence our interest in VMware.
We thought the growing need to secure all that information would be disruptive to our customers, hence our interest in acquiring RSA.
We thought that there would be a secular shift towards applications built on unstructured content, hence our interest in Documentum.
We thought that network-centric management and orchestration would be the new way of running IT, hence our investment in Smarts.
We thought that how people use information in cloud architectures would be disruptive, hence our organic investment in Atmos.
As you look across the EMC portfolio, you'll see many other examples. Not every investment pans out, but a surprisingly large percentage do work out, and we never seem to lose our enthusiasm to keep at it.
Case In Point
Take a look at the Iomega StorCenter Pro 200rL. We're talking 4TB of rackmount NAS (raw) for $2699 list. First TB costs you $1,299.
Or, if you're really in the mood for inexpensive, take a look at the desktop StorCenter Pro ix4. 4TB will set you back $1,299, and -- among a surprisingly long feature list -- it's VMware-certified!
These products don't look like a traditional EMC storage product, do they?
They're built differently, sold differently and supported differently than the rest of what EMC does. The whole supply chain is more reminiscent of consumer electronics rather than building data center IT. That's what makes it so cost-effective.
But, as you look at the specs -- sure, there's a lot there -- but if you're a storage wonk like me, you'll notice the following.
No extended protocol support -- yet.
No extended HA features -- yet.
No fancy snaps and replication -- yet.
No integrated backup as a service -- yet.
No dedupe features -- yet.
But all of those goodies live in the extended EMC portfolio, don't they?
And all of them are available to the Iomega engineering team if and when they decide their customers are ready for these features.
This sort of value-oriented engineering for this entry market was a trick that EMC hadn't learned, so we bought a company that was doing a great job, gave them the resources we had, and got out of the way to let them go figure out how to serve their customers best.
So far, they're doing pretty good it seems.
Disruption Can Come From Below
Martin's (aka Storagebod's) post reviews Dave Hitz' book on how NetApp started out selling humble and dedicated storage appliances, and grew from there. One could argue that in doing so they disrupted the market at the time.
But now, they are a defined player, and thus subject to the same sort of disruption that got them where they are today. As is true for HP, IBM, Sun, HDS et. al.
I wonder where disruption will come from?