And, if you look at the story of Atmos, it's a great illustration of this principle.
It's been in the market for a while now. I still think there are a lot of people who don't understand how it's different than what came before it, or why that might be an interesting discussion.
However, from my perspective, it's been a big success in terms of what it set out to achieve -- creating an entirely new category of storage platform.
To simplify the discussion, imagine two categories of IT technology: (1) technology that's basically used the same way as its predecessors, but does a better job, and (2) technology that has to be used in a fundamentally different way for its real value to be visible.
Such is the case with the Atmos storage platform -- it's very different than traditional block and file storage that we all are so familiar with. For starters, it presents an object interface. Its preferred access style is more RESTful puts and gets rather than tight API integration.
Notions of policy, geography and multitenancy are architectural foundations, not afterthoughts. Its management model is very different as well -- it's designed to deliver services, rather than simple be storage. And if you're a hardware type, you're frustrated that the hardware of Atmos is relatively uninteresting -- almost all of the value comes from software.
If you're a storage traditionalist, this is very unfamiliar territory ...At The Beginning
When Atmos was first introduced as a member of a nascent category we dubbed COS -- cloud optimized storage -- people spent a lot of time scratching their heads. What would it be used for? How did it compare with more traditional approaches? Would it be a big hit, or just a noble experiment?Many of us knew it'd be a long road. We had to find newer use cases that weren't being met with traditional technological approaches. We had to team with a different class of application vendor who could address the newer use cases, and convince them to integrate with our newer model.
Going further, we had to approach large-scale service providers with these new business opportunities, and help them construct new business models around the new opportunities.
This Is Nothing New At EMC
If you follow us, you probably realized that we had to construct a similar ecosystem for Centera when it was introduced in 2003.
Like Atmos, it wasn't a traditional storage device. It too was targeted at newer content-based use cases, required ISV integration, and specialized partners who were proficient in selected verticals, like healthcare and insurance.
It took more than just a few months to line up all the pieces, but -- once the value chain was built -- things started to take off. Say what you will, but we still consider Centera an extremely successful and sufficiently differentiated platform to this very day.
No matter what any competitor says :-)
On To Atmos
When we were considering Atmos storage, it was pretty clear that we were signing up for a similar journey.To do this, the Atmos team needed passion, perseverance and a good dose of faith. From my perspective, their journey is now starting to pay off in spades.
As you look at the press release, you'll see these elements start to fall into place -- entirely new use cases, new ISV partners, new relationships with service providers -- the ecosystem is starting to form and thrive. One way of describing might be building domain-specific private clouds for information.
Make no mistake -- this ecosystem stuff is heavy lifting, and you've got to be prepared to invest years of work (even after your product is shipping) to recruit and engage a new and important set of players.
The New Face of IT Tech
So many members of the IT community think that better tech is synonymous with cheaper tech.
Now, there's nothing wrong with doing a well-understood requirement faster or cheaper, but the real winners are those technologies that create entirely new solutions to problems that are just becoming interesting.
Ultimately, I think more value results creating better answers, and not just doing what was done yesterday a tad faster or cheaper.
So much of what EMC does these days doesn't neatly fit into established categories. Atmos. Centera. VPLEX. Ionix. RSA DLP. Archer. And a lot more if you go looking for it ..
I think we tend to frustrate people because they can't neatly drop us (or our products) into familiar and well-understood frameworks. We get accused of making up new words and phrases to explain our concepts, and over-hyping our technologies as new and revolutionary.
Well, in many cases, that's the truth -- they're big bets on the future. We need new words to describe our thinking. We emphasize the differences, rather than the similarities. We know these newer approaches are going to take some time to evolve, be understood, and have value-creating ecosystems form around them.
And that's what makes working here so fun :-)