EMC announcements: Form over substance
By: Christophe Bertrand on January 19, 2011
There has been a flurry of posts recently in the blogosphere comparing EMC’s VMAX and Hitachi’s VSP. Lots of details and perspectives have been provided by both camps. These loaded architectural discussions can be confusing for readers, even for those who are really savvy and know storage systems well. But there is a fundamental marketing discussion underlying these exchanges.
EMC used to be really good at product transitions. I say this with a lot of respect. But for whatever reason, things have changed. They’ve lost their “Mojo”.
It’s much like a recent candidate for Governor here in California who thought that a lot of (marketing) money could get you there. Well, the other guy spent a fraction and got the job. He was a better product for his audience, had a message that resonated, etc. We’ll see in time if the goods are delivered, but since it is politics, anything goes!
Today’s announcement by EMC was an interesting example of form over substance. It was a show, but it begged more questions than it provided answers. It was entertainment, just like a circus show with all the characters. They even had little Billy provisioning a storage device from his iPad. It must have cost a lot of money.
But seriously, it was updates and catch up, and a much-hyped relaunch of a low end product that seems to be missing the mark based on some early blog reviews.
Why make it simple when you can make it complex?
Over 40 products or solutions were discussed, but nothing really ground-breaking or that had not already been covered (leaked?) in the media recently. You’d think EMC would want to consolidate their portfolio as customers have been expecting. Make it simple. With so many products and solutions, one could easily get lost on the journey to the private cloud. And this complexity can only add operational costs. Also, there seemed to be a certain avoidance of discussing the high end of the market where VMAX is positioned. See why below.
Tough product transition
Back to my point, it’s marketing and it was a marketing show. Looking back 18 months, what is frankly astonishing to me is that EMC’s transition from DMX to VMAX was poor. Seriously, you can talk about chip sets until you’re blue in the face but this is just obfuscating the reality. Let me start with 3 items:
1) False Claims: VMAX was clearly not ready when announced and released. While this happens often in technology, claiming first to market when you make an announcement 18 months before you push it out is not being first to market. FAST was SLOW.
2) Performance: The product’s architecture was a bit of a gamble: it was a design predicated on scale out. In essence, if you can’t scale up, it’s hard to truly benefit from scale out. So…customers keep using DMX (an older scale up architecture). Of course, why wouldn’t they? I hope the transition to the next generation DMX will be non-disruptive if EMC decides to back away from VMAX. The problem with today’s performance announcement is this: asserting is not proving. In the field, we’re hearing that the product has serious performance issues. No one is buying that this is really being addressed. In his blog yesterday, Chris Evans provides a good piece of advice:
The performance and efficiency claims should be challenged by customers at every opportunity as only customer pressure will make EMC change their policy.
3) Value: As my esteemed colleague says: “If customers brought VMAX based on EMC’s support promises, they may only be able to recoup a year worth of usage before their VMAX technology must be refreshed due to its financial EOL (3 years). You can’t run your infrastructure on a vision.”
There are many other dimensions to yesterday’s announcements that will be covered by other bloggers and industry commentators in the next few days. My fundamental question is this: If you take away Evil Knievel, the puppies and the kids, the clown car act, the car sales guys….when the show is over, what are you left with? What’s really new? What have they just announced that’s not some form of repackaging?
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