Home > EMC, Hyperbole, Marketing > Breaking Records ?

Breaking Records ?

I’m in the middle of digesting what was actually released in EMC’s recent launch. For the most part there isn’t anything really that new: lots of unsupported hype like, “3 times simpler, 3 times faster.” Faster than what, exactly? From a technical perspective the only thing that’s really interesting or surprising is the VNXe and that was less interesting than I expected because I thought they were going to refresh their entire range using that technology. So it looks like they’ve given up trying to make that scale for the moment.

So much of what they’ve done copies or validates what we’ve already done at NetApp:

  • Simplified software packaging
  • Launching a lot of stuff at the same time
  • New denser shelves with small form-factor drives
  • An emphasis on storage efficiency
  • An emphasis of flash as a caching layer
  • The ideal match between unified storage and virtualized environments

The biggest change that I see is that they now appear to be shipping all their controllers with unified capability from the start, enabled via a software upgrade which is something EMC has criticised us for in the past. Now they acknowledge that the only way to compete with NetApp effectively is to try to be as much like us as they possibly can. This might explain why EMC in Australia isn’t going to sell the “Block only” VNX 5100. SearchStorage.com.au had this report:

EMC’s new VNX 5100 (pictured), a block-only storage device, won’t go on sale in Australia becaus “We did not see great enough demand to see that particular system,” according to Mark Oakey, the company’s Marketing Manager for Storage Platforms in Australia and New Zealand. “We’ll continue with the Clariion CX4 120,” he told SearchStorage ANZ. “It has more or less the same capabilities.”

Most of the interesting capabilities they’re touting came last year with FLARE 30 and DART 6.0 (two of their operating systems). Even the VMax stuff they’re pushing during the launch came out via a software upgrade without a lot of fanfare in December, so as far as I can see their “record breaking announcement” consists of announcing a whole bunch of things they’d already done along with some new tin.

Things they didn’t announce:

  1. Multistore equivalency
  2. V-Series equivalency
  3. Unified replication capabilities
  4. A commercial grade VMware based “Virtual Storage Array”- The new low end box is based on Linux
  5. A scale out roadmap for their “Unified” platform
  6. Any significant change in their management software strategy or offering
  7. Block level deduplication for their unified arrays
  8. Clarification on where their newly acquired scale out Isilon systems fit within their new “Unified” ecosystem.

Overall EMC did a catch up release to try and maintain pace with NetApp innovation, and nothing they’ve done or released represents a significant new threat. If this is

“the most significant midrange announcement in EMC’s 30-year history”

according toi Rich Napolitano, President, Unified Storage Division at EMC, then EMC will continue to play catch up as NetApp redefines Unified Storage and its role in shared infrastructure.

Categories: EMC, Hyperbole, Marketing
  1. matt
    March 1, 2011 at 4:06 am

    > New denser shelves with small form-factor drives

    How about you storage guys (netapp/emc et. al.) get real and offer some *actual* density in disk shelves? Like the HP 50 drive in 4U or DDN 60 drive in 4U enclosures? Heck 3par at least tries.

    Why am I supposed to waste a whole friggin’ rack of 1/2 depth shelves on a couple hundred drives, all those power supplies, interface cards and so forth?

  2. March 1, 2011 at 8:26 am

    There are a number of reasons storage vendors like NetApp haven’t concentrated on ultra-dense shelves, but before I go into the reasons I’d like to point out that a Full 64U rack of DS2246 drives would give you 768 spindles not “a couple of hundred”

    1. A full 64U rack of DS2246 are designed for a high IOPS density using 10KRPM drives which pulls a lot of power. This requires a power density that is a more than most data-centers are able to provide. If you take a tour around a lot of data-centers built more than 5 years ago, there is plenty of rackspace available because physical compute and power density has increased significantly whereas the power available to that rack has not.

    2. A full 64U rack of DS2246 drives is _heavy_, while within the weight load capacity of most raised floor environments, the tolerances for many older datacenters are beginning to get a little tight. Many ultradense racks like the DDN, and the now defunct COPAN require(d) specially re-enforced flooring which many datacenter managers I’ve spoken to are either unable, or unwilling to install.

    3. For most storage administrators, the ability to hot swap and replace individual drives without taking downtime is still considered to be a primary requirement. Most ultra-dense shelf configurations require downtime to replace failed drives.

    4. For environments where capacity density is required, SATA based systems using 2+TB LFF drives in DS4243 enclosures meets the capacity requirements of most customers. For example one fully populated 64U rack gives over 750TB RAW capacity which satisfies the requirements of 99%+ of data-center requirements without needing to worry about power or weight density

    If you’re interested in finding out more, send me an email with your details, and I’ll arrange for someone to get back to you with more details.

    John Martin

  3. October 8, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I am pleased to see you pick up on these daft headline grabbing marketing soundbites – 3 x faster, 3 x simpler – as you say, than what! Most people in IT have scientific minds so you would think the writer would know his audience requires a little more fact and a litle less hyperbole. Nevertheless, I think it shows one thing. EMC are certainly winning the marketing war at present.

    • October 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      Thanks for the reply, I’d disagree that EMC is winning the “Marketing War”, they certainly do a good job, but while war might be an appropriate metaphor for field sales, marketing is more subtle, not so much a thing of battles as one of establishing identities and building awareness of what you stand for. Marketing is also a multi-faceted discipline which includes among other things, figuring out which markets to address, what pricing should be set, how to reach the customer with your information, PR, events and a whole bunch more. EMC do many of these things very well, but the one people seem to notice the most is what’s sometimes referred to as “Unaided awareness”. This is something you can measure by asking 100 people “Name 3 companies known for data storage”, if someone says “EMC” as one of the 3, then that counts as towards a positive score for unaided awareness. Sometimes this unaided awareness if for specific features or benefits e.g. “Which storage vendor is the most efficient”. It is this kind of unaided awareness that marketing exercises like the “Breaking Records” launch is meant to create, and the effect is, as I’ve pointed out fairly easily measured. Based on the metrics I’ve seen, that particular event had a pretty temporary effect, so I’m not sure it was a great investment of time or effort on their part.

      I know when I look at the key awareness metrics for ANZ, while EMC did pretty well last year, they didnt do much if any better than Netapp, particularly in the areas NetApp really focuses on. I think this focus on spending marketing efforts in the places where it will have the greatest effect is reflected in the recent IDC market share figures for Australia which reveals that NetApp now shares the top position for storage hardware revenue, and has a significant lead in storage capacity. Having said that NetApp generally would rather spend money on developing great products and hiring the best staff than on high cost, low impact marketing activities, and from my perspective, I’m happy to work in a company like that.

      For me, form should follow function, and style should never triumph over substance

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