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September 17, 2010


Greg Knieriemen

Another great post Chuck. One of the philosophies floating around that leads to comments like "storage is a commodity" is that the abstraction layer that VMware creates will ultimately manage the entire stack (servers, switches and storage) and render each of those parts as commodities. Now EMC is way ahead of this with Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager 2.0 but don't management tools that virtualize the stack (not specifically Ionix) have the potential to yield those parts as commodities?

Chuck Hollis

Hi Greg

You're quite right: today's differentiation is tomorrow's commodity. That's been the case in IT for at least the last 20 years, and perhaps the next 20 as well!

That being said, there always seems to be room for more differentiation, more integration and more value-creation in the stack or solution as different parts commoditize.

Smart vendors (and smart customers) will recognize this trend, and hopefully plan accordingly!

-- Chuck


Mike from NetApp here

I enjoyed this very much. Lots of us have been in the storage industry for a long time - 15 years in my case, (good Lord!) and we have seen change happen at an amazing clip. In fact, 15 years in enterprise storage would put you in the industry from just after its birth! If I go all the way back to Middle school - 7th grade to be exact, my first programming efforts were stored on paper punch tape! 5 years later, we had Apple II's and a floppy disk holding 16K. Ah, those were the days! Today, I store a lot of my stuff in the "Cloud". Nice.

Today, the acceleration of change is bewildering! I think some of the reticence to change comes from good old human nature (fear), and the rest comes from a sneaking suspicion that they are being sold rainbows (more fear). Not long ago, as an SE at EMC I could sell a TB of disk (just disk!) for a million dollars. Now, you can buy 2 TB in a single drive from best buy for a few hundred bucks.

During my new hire at EMC I vividly recall Jeff Goldberg addressing us. He spoke about "Institutional Thinking" as EMC's biggest competitor. I still have my notes from that talk he gave, and it was riveting. Few people like Jeff ever walk this earth. The truth is, that fact has not changed one bit. It is not only our biggest competition, but it is our customer's biggest threat!

The one constant in our lives is that the biggest barrier to useful change is institutional thinking, be it for personal growth, or change that propels a business forward. Your discussion was a great example on how anyone - especially an IT manager, can overcome and break down these barriers to progress.

Every IT shop I've ever visited - 1,000's of them - have some of this friction holding them back from extracting the full value of the pieces and parts they've selected to use. I look forward to the day when the majority of business look at their IT infrastructure and staff, and smile, rather than grit their teeth.

More than anything else, the Human Element catches my attention as the driver or inhibitor to growth and progress. The tools chosen can make a difference, but more important to me is what you do with what you have that that makes the difference.

Cheers. My best to you and your family.

Steve Ennis

I'm glad I found your blog Chuck. This is fantastic insight into the marketing/strategy of EMC's products. I have an OK understanding of how some of the older products work, but I'm fairly new to the company, and do not know much about what OTHER companies offer with our new product line. I'm currently in grad school at Northeastern; They want us to apply some of the applications we talk about to our own companies business plan. I hope to dig deeper into the decisions EMC has made in the past, and how they plan on moving forward with an expanding market.

Duane A. Burman

I enjoyed your "rant"; as it was just the type of front-line interaction/confontation with the "handson" decision makers that so many upper management players like to avoid---reason I always tried to stage some "dry runs" to see if I really wanted to risk taking my own Sr. Management out to see a Client! I was Co-Founder of the Twin City CIO Council @ Y2K and had the "good fortune" to get to pull together Fortune 1000 CEO's, CFO's & CIO's with widely varying levels of understanding of their existing technologies, available technologies as well as even their own business operations! (one CEO told me aside that "He never allowed his CIO @ their Strategy Table; as he bored them with bits & bytes they never understood & showed no concern for learning where the CEO, SVP of Sales, COO & CFO were coming from---hence he made the CIO report to his CFO; so he could control him with a tight hand on the I.T. budgets!")
Today's CIO's are being rapidly sorted out by the need to "Run I.T. as Business"; and I truly hope that I.T. Mgr. recognized the great management mentoring you provided, Sir!

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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