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September 14, 2015



The product of Gilder's Telecosm, and Carr's The Big Switch will yield similar conclusions. Compute, Storage and Network is a commodity. The value remains: Apps, Data, and Identities (of entities) with Access, so long as they can be de-coupled from (any particular) Infrastructure.

Aernoud van de Graaff

Hi Chuck,

First of all, I wish you well at your new job. Hope they do not 'corrupt' your free thinking and candid opinions. Keep them coming.

I really like you analogy about commoditization and a black hole. And I fully agree. It slowly sucks everything to its center and you have to keep paddling hard to stay away. And technology is so fluid that the pull into the black hole is getting stronger every year.

Hardware vendors are already struggling. As you said, flash is just flash. Now some flash is better (faster, more reliable) than other flash but that is just a matter of time. And unless you can develop a game changing piece of hardware, you are going to get sucked into the hole.

There is more room in differentiation in the IT software and services world. But still, too many service providers want to be another Amazon. That is not going to work. The need to become something different, compelling. Same with software, you need to stay ahead of the pack.

At the infrastructure layer that is more difficult than at the application layer where you can directly influence business. And Oracle plays a big role in that space.

I may be wrong, but I associate Oracle with the more traditional IT (2nd platform if you will). And don't get me wrong, probably 80-90% of IT is still there. So a huge market.

Not sure how many startup disrupters use Oracles technology. Specially looking at integrated solutions (Exadata, etc). They probably do use Java (or the Spring variant).

And I still have fundamental issues with creating a whole forest of silos of different integrated solutions.
Having an Exadata from Oracle, next to a PureApp from IBM, etc. etc. and on top of that a generic platform for the rest. I still believe the best solution is to create a common Infrastructure platform that will run all your workloads. The advantage of tighter integration within a single stack does not out-way the simplification (and therefor automation) of the common infrastructure layer.

And that is not just driven by cost, but by the fundamental law that complexity of multiple silos increases risk and thus reduces quality, control, security, continuity, compliance, etc.

There are interesting times ahead :)

Stay well and keep your opinions coming...



First, congratulations on the move. I was one of the ones who probably thought you would be with the federation forever, but I agree with your motivation 100%. I am a long time fan of your blog and glad you’re still writing. I remember being in a room with Joe Tucci in 2010 and I ‘accidently’ used the “c-word” (commoditization), man the look I got – then Joe proceeded to say that there was absolutely no commoditization at EMC.

I left that year and joined a company called Storwize, which sold a “product” for doing real-time compression. That company was bought by IBM and now the “product” is a “feature” in their Storwize (they took the name for their new storage platform) / SVC storage solutions. I think we have seen this time and time again. Vendors that are being squeezed can invest in R&D as you called out so they acquire small startup companies with great ideas, spend some money and integrate the product into a solution to try to add value for its clients.

I also agree with you that “…flash is flash -- unless someone can come up with some real secret sauce.” The question here is what is that “secret sauce”. From your post it would be something that enables flash to help enable money making solutions for the customer. I’d like your perspective. This whole new space called “Copy Data Management - CDM” is taking on a life of its own. While today it is predominately used to solve data protection problems (seems like every IT shop has budget for that – back to your ‘risk’ comment), the reality is, the right CDM solution that can take advantage of the storage services on the flash array that the client has already bought and paid for can be much more powerful than just protection. If a company’s competitive advantage comes from the ability to deliver goods and services faster than the other guy, then a DevOps model for companies is a must in order to out maneuver its competition. Flash is part of that, but automation and orchestration of the data is as much or even more important. In a post you did the other day, you said “-- information technology -- is really about information and much less about technology.” It is the information that will make a business money. Also in this piece you talk about “…CIOs routinely tell me that finding (and paying for) good people is getting increasingly harder…” Technologies like Chef and Puppet are helping to alleviate some of this but in the storage world there aren’t a ton of solutions. The ability to drive automation (IT best practices) on a platform that can help development and test deliver solutions faster can help a company make more money, while at the same time, help them save money, not necessarily on the data copies (while it can) but on the labor surrounding the management of that data.

I wonder, would that be some of the ‘secrete sauce’ you were talking about?

One other thought. On your cloud thought, I agree, it is high time that people stop thinking of the cloud as just ‘cheap and deep’ storage. Leveraging the cloud for its economics when it comes to the ability to spin applications up in the cloud, perform the functions you need and spin them down, again saves money. But, as you put it, gravity still applies. Getting data in and out of the cloud is still something that folks need to contend with no matter how good the applications are that reside there. I think a data management solution that can help IT perform the same automation and orchestration around data management is powerful in helping to better exploit the applications that run well in the cloud. (BTW, my opinion only, IBM’s cloud with SoftLayer does seem to be pretty powerful, especially if having a “complementary set of cloud services and applications” is important, I think they have a good solution, but that is my $.02)

Best of luck to you Chuck at Oracle. I look forward to more of your enlighten reading.

The Storage Alchemist

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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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