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October 13, 2010

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Chris Mellor

Chuck,
Great post; but does it go far enough? Wouldn't it be better to buy from a single integrated vendor rather than from a master assembler who gets the engine and gearbox from GM, the suspension, wheels and floorplan from Ford, and the body from VMcarware Inc? Won't an integrated IT stack system coming from an single integrated vendor, rather than a coalition of three vendors, have even greater integration and be more efficient and perform better?
Chris Mellor,
The Register

Chuck Hollis

Hi Chris

Always a thoughtful response, so thanks.

Analogies with automobiles and the car industry will get you only so far, but consider this: almost every automotive manufacturer subcontracts to specialists for key sub-assemblies.

The car vendor (and dealer) is responsible for the end user experience -- and has to figure out which bits of the value proposition they provide -- and which ones are better done than others.

Sure, we could debate exactly where the optimal lines of demarcation might be -- but I'm arguing a different premise: the traditional boundaries are shifting, and very fast.

Thanks for comment

-- Chuck

BrandonJRiley

I don't agree that it would be better to buy a car entirely built by one company. BMW uses ZF transmissions. Because ZF makes a fantastic transmission.

As a customer, why do I want BMW to make their own transmissions when they can buy better quality ones cheaper from ZF? I don't.

This whole scenario explains why I am not a huge vBlock fan. I don't believe that an EMC Clariion is the perfect array for every customer, and every application. I don't believe UCS is the perfect server platform for every application. I want the flexibility to choose something else if it will perform better for my particular application.

Chris M Evans

Chuck

I think this is rather a forced analogy. Firstly most of the manufacturers of kit cars don't offer total flexibility; it's not like I can take the car you pictured and put a Bugatti Veyron engine in it. Kit car builders have to work in the parameters of what's offered. Building any car is a compromise to what will work mechanically.

Extending to your fleet analogy, I'd ask how many people who get provided with a fleet car (company car in the UK) are actually happy with the car they receive? I think you'll find, given the choice they will prefer to choose something better, but they don't pay for the fleet car, so choose to keep quiet and accept the free transport. There's also the rise in the UK of people opting out of the fleet deal and just taking the money to fund their own (better choice) car.

Sure there will be plenty of customers who like the "single throat to choke" approach, especially if they're provided with the integrated software. But there will also be many customers who prefer to manage their own infrastructure choices for a variety of reasons. Neither route is best, but rather best for that customer in question.

The message from EMC at the moment seems to be that unless you're taking the integrated stack then you're on the wrong path. Integrated is good; non-integrated is bad. Am I reading that wrong? If so, please put me right and I apologise in advance. If not, then I think you're doing a disservice to many customers who just prefer to manage their own infrastructure to suit them.

Chuck Hollis

Hi Chris

I think all analogies are forced, so we're in agreement in that regard.

Regarding your key question -- fortunately, the world is not a black and white place, is it?

Our argument is that there are many situations where IT is not adding value by trying to act as the internal system integrator for requirements that are basically the same across a wide swath of IT requirements.

Not only that, but the differences in opex between the folks that are doing it the traditional way -- and those that are doing things the new way -- are stunning, to say the least. They're not only saving money, they're delivering better IT services, period.

To do this, the operational model (and associated roles and responsibilities) has to change as well. Most definitely not IT as usual. Put differently, you can't run a Vblock like it's 2004 :-)

Are their certain IT organizations that ought to be doing things themselves? Certainly -- but not many.

Are their unique requirements that don't lend themselves to standardized infrastructure? Of course -- I see them all the time.

That being said, you'd be amazed at how many IT organizations are essentially re-inventing the wheel -- or the car, using this analogy.

Thanks for the comment

-- Chuck

VMTyler

@Brandon-

What percentage of BMW owners know it's a ZF transmission? They aren't buying the best engine and best drivetrain, they're buying the BMW driving 'experience.'

That's the fundamental problem I used to struggle with as an engineer/architect- Your internal customers requirements are 'support xyz apps requirements for processing, memory, storage, data protection.' Period. Not 'build the most technically advanced infrastructure solution.' If a Vblock is sized appropriately to have sufficient compute, network, and storage iops/space, why does it matter if its a Clariion, Symmetrix, or Celerra?

The answer is the same as the BMW example- only us gearheads know and care.

Look at Apple- I bet you at least 50% of MacBook owners don't know what the CPU is in it and probably 98% don't know if they're running a 64bit or 32bit OS and what the advantages of each are. Apple is selling an experience, not a combination of hardware components. It 'gets the job done easily' for so many people, you can tell them about the video card in your Alienware desktop until you're blue in the face. They'll say "that's fine- this just works for me."

That's what Vblock is all about- if you want it to 'just work' get a Vblock. If you want to roll your own, go ahead. EMC has great non-Vblock solutions in a virtualized environment.

Tyler
(EMC Employee)

BrandonJRiley

Excellent points Tyler.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis


  • Chuck Hollis
    Chief Strategist, VMware Storage and Availability Business Unit
    @chuckhollis

    Chuck works for VMware, and is deeply embroiled in all things software-defined storage these days.

    Previously, he was with EMC for 18 years, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Holliston, MA with his wife, three kids and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.
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