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September 16, 2010



Interest in "object" storage should have heated up a decade ago Chuck. Frankly, I am very disappointed that EMC hasn't done more--much more--since it bought its way into information management with Documentum several years ago. I was expecting to see a savvy storage company move core information management functionality down into the storage infrastructure where it belongs. That simply has not happened for whatever reasons (likely more political than practical).

The storage industry needs to move away from the notion that businesses manage simple information objects. Most businesses manage webs of information assets where just as much of value lives in the webs (i.e. in the relationships/metadata) as in the individual files and database records.

It is in this context that the concept of an "object" becomes diluted. Is an object always an individual file or sub-file component? Or could an object also be a loosely coupled collection of widely distributed information assets and metadata (a "web") managed as a whole?

Storage technology must understand how to preserve and protect not only the individual storage and information assets, but the webs as well. Think about the typical EMC engineering or marketing project. Think about the number and variety of information assets created, modified, related, exchanged and distributed over the life of the project. Now ask yourself, how do you protect those assets? How do you preserve them? How do you ensure that the dots remain connected, the relationships unbroken in backups and archives? How is it applied to managed information (e.g. assets in an ECM)? What about the information not currently formally managed?

Chuck Hollis

Hi Joseph

You and I both saw the opportunity for a more integrated end-to-end approach. However, no matter how compelling the architecture, it has to be packaged in a way that people can consume it.

Early on, we had meetings with larger customers where we'd share our thoughts in this arena. Occasionally, a light bulb would go on, which would then quickly dim as more pragmatic organizational boundaries and processes were considered.

So, we made a decision to focus on areas of integration that people could consume without waiting for all the pieces to fall in place. The underlying technology can easily integrate as you suggest (and is doing so in a relatively few situations), but I don't think the market is entirely ready to consume an end-to-end approach.

Probably a better topic over beers :-)

-- Chuck


I understand Chuck. We've encountered the same attitude from our clients and their clients over the years.

Your customers are feeding you the same old lines that we've heard thousands of times from people who are, frankly, reluctant to make real change within their organizations.

They say they have immediate needs and problems to solve and can't really afford to think about the future. In fact, they're inclined to focus on short term objectives (often at the expense of long-term impact) because that's how many of their employers have structured incentives. And today's job-hopping IT types aren't going to stick around long enough in one organization to experience the long-term impact of their decisions. To many of them, the future is simply not their responsibility. It's a mess left for someone else to clean up.

(Sounds a lot like the general attitude toward social and environmental issues, doesn't it?)

The problem with that line of reasoning, in the context of long-term information management, is that it often results in short-sighted decisions. The decisions today about the technology to adopt, the processes to implement and the people to hire MUST be made in the context of a long-term objectives. Otherwise some unfortunate employees a few years down the road are going to inherit even greater pain, and substantially higher cost to fix what should have been fixed years prior.

Every presentation I've ever done on information management ends with the line "pay me now or pay me later" because eventually customers are going to pay the piper. The challenge is in convincing them that it's only going to get worse the longer they wait.

Hope to see you around at EMC's Analyst Day to continue the discussion.


I think you two are talking about the same thing. I work in the ECM space so I know intimately how the objects and metadata are managed in that environment. The various ECM spaces, including Documentum, will probably be commoditized or clouded before an end –to-end “Object Storage” system can be realized. The development of Microsoft’s SharePoint attests this trend. But the true end game is going to be replacing “File Storage” as we know it into real “Object Storage.” I believe this even though the user community will not be ready for this for a while, the technology that will enable true “Object Storage” is not ready yet and it may not be available quite some time. Unlike the current defacto “File Storage” system spearheaded by Microsoft, the ubiquitous “Object Storage” system that could replace “File Storage” might be a dream at this stage, I believe it will eventually materialize. This may be a better topic over beers, but all the more so over spirits, perhaps. Cheers!

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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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