Sorry to lay YAA (yet another acronym) on you -- this one stands for Time To Value.
How quickly can a customer get to "good" and start seeing the benefits?
If you're in the IT vendor business, sooner or later you start taking this topic very seriously, not only for your own products, but also how they work with other parts of the ecosystem.
And since the potential customer value of fully virtualized solution is very great indeed, this is turning out to be a very popular topic.
How Do Vendors Accelerate TTV?
Well, some of it is blinking obvious, yet still very important. Things like making product easy to configure and order, quick delivery, good planning guides, simple install wizards, and so on.
From a customer point of view, all of this is just expected; but from the vendor side, significant work is required -- especially if you have products with extremely rich feature sets like EMC does.
One example I like to highlight is EMC's Celerra -- five or so years ago, this product was not exactly a benchmark in terms of this whole TTV concept. But, through diligent and sustained work by the entire EMC team, it's emerged as a best-in-class in TTV, even doing better in many areas that its traditional competitors.
But There Are Limits
Every IT infrastructure product interacts with others. IT vendors can accelerate TTV by doing extensive qualification and testing, publishing interop tools, and making sure that all the parts go together without much hassle.
I'd offer that EMC does pretty well in this regard ... many of us believe we set the standard in the industry for this sort of interoperability testing, and have for many years.
But even interoperability testing has its limits. There's still more that can be done.
Enter the EMC Proven Solution
A while back, we set up a dedicated organization to specify, design, test and document popular customer use cases that involved non-EMC products.
The idea was to provide customers a promise that basically said "hey, order this stuff from these vendors, assemble it this easy way, and here's exactly what we expect it to do, and EMC will fully support it if there's a problem".
We provided characterization information -- how many, how fast, etc. We tested-to-fail, so we knew exactly how far a given config would go, and when it would stop working. Over time, we augmented our extended build docs with various scripts and wizards to help automate certain setup tasks.
If you did things pretty much as EMC specified, the results were always predictable, and happened much faster than before. Even if you decided to improvise a bit based on your unique situation, you still had a solid foundational baseline to start from.
Many customers loved the idea, and EMC really gets excited when customers love what we're doing.
Yes, this sort of solutioneering is an incredibly expensive investment on our side in people and lab equipment and whatnot. But we're now absolutely convinced that it's the right investment -- simply because it accelerates time-to-value for our customers, and makes their life that much easier.
Simply put: we invest so they don't have to.
And, over time, the EMC Proven Solution team has become pretty good at this stuff, IMHO.
Among killer value propositions in IT today, VMware deserves its own pedestal. If you think about it, the greater the potential customer value, the more important time-to-value becomes.
So the EMC Proven Solutions team has been incredibly busy creating an extended library for accelerated VMware deployments in a variety of very specific use cases.
The press release highlights two new additions: integrated server/network/storage infrastructure for smaller or remote deployments, and one that provides a next-gen backup architecture that combines snaps and dedupe that delivers both speed and efficiency.
The first one is great for someone who'd just like a straightforward modular rack build to sit in a data closet. The second one is great for someone who's put some nontrivial applications on VMware, and now needs industrial-strength next-gen backup. When you follow the links, you'll find some high-level descriptions that give you a sense of what they do and how they're built.
My apologies, though, we weren't able to put the detailed build descriptions, scripts and other beefy technical docs out in the public domain as we'd like to, since there are a few bad apples out there who have a habit of putting their names on other people's work, or attempt to beat us up with our own work.
That's the world we live in.
Note the selection of VMware, Cisco and EMC for the reference platforms.
I'm guessing you'll see more of that sort of thing in the future :-)
Isn't This Just Marketing?
Yes and no. The good kind, I think.
Is it an effective offering in front of many customers? You bet -- we've seen it create real customer value, and there's no need for gimmicks or stunts of any sort. It isn't slideware, folks.
Now -- how good would the world be if IT vendors spent less money on gimmicks and stunts, and spent more money accelerating customer time-to-value?
Makes you think ...