Not really -- not this time ...
This week has been a blur for me. All good stuff, but my day job(s) have found a way to consume most of my waking hours, and preventing me from blogging.
I know that the title of the post means I should be ranting about something, but -- honestly -- I don't have a rant-worthy topic this time.
So, instead, I thought I'd offer up a potpourri of bubbling topics that are too small to write a dedicated post about, but too big to tweet about.
There's only so much you can say in 140 characters ...
#1 Vblocks Are Hot
Say what you will about Vblocks, but they're an incredibly hot topic with IT leaders these days. Yes, I know that EMC doesn't sell Vblocks directly (VCE does), but it seems that I can't get out of a customer discussion without spending at least 15 minutes on it.
That's their choice, not mine :-)
This week, I had 6 (count'em six) face-to-face briefings with customers and partners. In all six, I flashed up a picture of a Vblock to illustrate some of the concepts I was talking about. In all six, I quickly moved on. In all six, someone in the room said "hey, can you go back to that thing you just showed". In all six, we ended up discussing (at length!) how customers and partners were using Vblocks to accelerate different parts of their IT agenda.
And in all six, they wanted some sort of follow-up: another meeting, a proposal, a deep-dive, etc.
These people want to buy a working product, and not some theoretical blueprint. They want to drop a hunk of advanced and integrated infrastructure on the floor, and get on with it. We don't talk much about the components: they're assumed to be best-of-breed from VMware, Cisco and EMC -- and fully integrated.
That's turning out to be good enough for most people.
For those of you who remain skeptical, or don't like the concept of something like a Vblock, I have some friendly advice for you: get over it.
#2 Hitachi's Storage Announcement
Since I've been at EMC such a long time, I tend to pay attention to this historical competitor of EMC's high-end storage business segment.
As you're quite aware, they had a big launch of their now-updated VSP storage platform.
I give them big kudos on how they did the announcement: lots of social media, all sorts of industry folks on stage, pretty clean messaging, bloggers recruited, etc. Not the typical HDS announcement (e.g. boring) of past years. As someone who has done big launches, I could see the effort and planning that had gone into it.
From a product perspective, nothing really new industry-wise that I could see -- no new compelling feature worthy of discussing, no clever thing to analyze, etc. It took me about 20 minutes to read the announcement, and I was pretty much done.
Given that Hitachi has lost Sun (and shortly HP) as a distribution channel, I took a quick gander at their website, looking to see if they're doing any significant hiring. Usually, if a company thinks their new product brings them great new opportunities, they'll staff up signfiicantly in anticipation of the new opportunity.
By comparison, all sorts of other IT companies are hiring key skills like mad. For example, check out Chris Kusek's "Gold Rush" post here.
I did have a moment to reflect on how much EMC had changed and evolved in the last decade. No longer are we just that company that sells high-end storage. Hitachi (and HDS) has pretty much stayed the same during the last decade.
I'm losing interest, and fast.
Or, as one customer put it, "at the end of the day, they're still Hitachi". Ouch. I guess they have their work cut out for them going forward ...
#3 IBM's StorWize S7000 Announcement
I actually was a bit pleased to see that IBM is still in the storage game, especially in the mid-tier. Stephen Foskett wrote an excellent post here, so I won't cover the basics.
I found the "storage virtualization appliance in front of disk enclosures" approach somewhat predictable. All modern storage controllers virtualize physical storage to some extent, and I've long argued that it's more about packaging then technology.
As many have pointed out, the SVC is the strongest storage offering in the current IBM portfolio, and it makes sense that they added disk drives and dubbed it a mid-range storage array.
The new name is cool, if a bit misleading. As Stephen points out, there's absolutely no StorWize compression / dedupe technologies in the new, er, StorWize product.
Which brings me to my real beef: I don't think it's a fully competitive product in this segment going forward.
Some aspects are moderately attractive and arguably competitive: for example, the use of SSDs and some form of auto-tiering, and the (potential) ability to use the SVC head for non-disruptive migrations.
Other parts make me scratch my head and wonder what they're thinking: for example, no support of file protocols, no dedupe or compression, and no mention of any significant VMware integration. And all three are really big deals in this market segment.
I also think that the new product will end up being a bit pricey: assembled-from-pieces vs. purpose-built usually results in additional product component costs, and this is a notoriously price-sensitive part of the marketplace. There's also the inevitable sticky wicket of positioning vs. the N series sourced from NetApp.
I'll let them figure that one out :-)
#4 What's Up At NetApp?
Funny thing -- they've gone really quiet as of late. Almost no blog posts and almost no tweets -- maybe some new corporate mandate? Ordinarily, I'd be intensely curious as to what's going on, but I have a good alternative source of information.
As part of the current EMC+ecosystem hiring binge of key skills and talent, we're picking up a sizable raft of former NetApp employees across multiple disciplines. Generally speaking, they seem pretty happy to be here -- great momentum, lots of fun tech, plenty of new opportunity, good people, etc.
Some of these newer folks track me down (I guess I'm relatively well-known over there, along with Chad and a few others) and we get to talking, and I end up getting a pretty interesting -- and consistent -- picture of what's going on behind the scenes.
Like any tech company these days, they've got their challenges as well :-)
#5 What's Up At EMC?
Plenty. Almost too much to talk about without sounding like I'm babbling :-)
I'm spending a lot of time working with the new class of service providers who are bent on capitalizing on the opportunity of delivering IT as a service. You can see some of my thoughts on my other blog, which -- sadly -- also has been neglected as of late. We're getting much better at working with this important class of folks, which is very satisfying to me.
We have a bunch of new announcements in the pipeline, and that's always fun stuff to work with on several levels: testing the new value propositions with customers and partners, and seeing how they react to what we're cooking up.
On a more pragmatic front, we've got a great new marketing leader here now -- Jeremy Burton -- and things are shifting into a very high gear on that front. We continue to hire more and more great customer and partner facing people -- something that I see as a sign of confidence IMHO.
All good from where I sit ...
How About You?
How are you doing? Things going well for you? Managing to find a way to have some fun in this crazy, turbulent world?
I hope so -- because I sure am.
Have a nice weekend, everyone ...