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February 16, 2007



Yes…. the journey has just begun.

So… HDS is re-purposing an existing controller, IBM is ‘stuck’ with an appliance and EMC has opted for a more revolutionary, intelligent switch-based solution.

I fail to see how, according to Tony, the SVC product is a significant ‘milestone’ on the IBM storage roadmap.

To be fair to Hue….USP is a very mature and proven clustered controller technology which can *easily* be re-purposed for in-line virtualization of third-party backend RAID enclosures. After all… a backend disk is a disk… and this strategy is one of *evolution*, protecting hard-earned reliability, stable caching strategies, migration, etc. Nothing wrong with being expedient & conservative .

EMC chooses to be more ‘revolutionary’ with intelligent switch-based solution … perhaps a better longer-term vision…. single vendor support.

Who is to say that Cisco will remain a non-competitor in this space…. being “closer” to those switch ASICS may be of some advantage.

Also, in your previous related post, you overview problems associated with multi-vendor system environment …. management, cost of aging disks, in-line ‘speed bump’ and difficulty with multi-vendor support…. and correctly point out that the most important *driver* of virtualization is “non-disruptive data mobility”.

I could not agree more… but these issues must also be obvious to IBM & HDS.

Are we to conclude that a bi-product of virtualization is a thinly disguised strategy, where the ultimate “final solution” is to replace multi-vendor equipment with a single-vendor solution ….. virtualized but uniform backend hardware (all can supply that) …. or move all this data back to a large centralized system. Are there any other better solutions?

I suspect, that with some small changes to DMX, EMC could do the same as HDS….but you are unwilling to phase-through the difficult multi-vendor environment period.

Chuck Hollis

Richard, you bring up some very interesting points. Sorry I haven't commented, it's been a bit busy.

First, there's no arguing that storage controllers are a mature platform along the lines you point out. But we've got those already, don't we? We know what the envelope looks like: cost, features, scalability, etc.

And there's part of many of us that just don't like the idea of putting one traditional storage controller in front of another.

Your second point is more interesting -- what's the end game? Whereas I'm sure that all of us are plotting to migrate from the other guy's stuff to our own, there's something for subtle here -- are the respective vendors putting new and differentiated functionality in the virtualization device that *can't* be done using a traditional storage controller?

I believe that's what EMC is doing. In addition to the standard storage virtualization functions, we now have several forms of replication that can't easily be done with a storage controller. There's a list of other functions that are attractive ; each would be problematic to embed in a storage controller.

So, in one sense, we see intelligent SANs as a new design point for new kinds of functionality. I don't think everyone shares our view, but that's what it is.

Thanks for the comment, as always!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, 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 Vero Beach, FL with his wife 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 ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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