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Five Years On (part 1)

Today is the fifth anniversary of the Storagebod Blog; I’d blogged a bit before and I had started commenting on various storage blogs but nearly all of the storage blogs and indeed enterprise technology blogs in general were vendor-focused and were pushing the agenda of the vendor. The voice of the ‘user’ was mostly missing…and so Storagebod was born.

Like many things, there was a itch followed by a scratch and possibly then with a bit of blood.

At the time that I started this blog; the vendors were very much in the mode of tearing lumps out of each other on their blogs. They spent more time talking and shouting at each other than actually listening to their customers and focusing on that. Now the blogs have mellowed, in fact many of them have fossilised and others unfortunately are just pure marketing. And still they seem spend more time talking to themselves, telling themselves how great they are, even if mostly they try not to tell us how poor their competitors are…so that’s progress?

There are still some good blogs out there; generally written by people who don’t have marketing or social in their job titles but the golden age of vendor blogging, if there was one, seems to have gone. If your company has a policy around social marketing; it’ll probably kill off the voices that should be heard.

Of course, there’s me and Chris Evans plugging away independently; there’s a few others as well but we could really do with more. I know plenty of you reading this disagree with much of what I write; I only have to read the comments on the syndicated ‘El Reg’ version of the blog and I thank all of my commenters but perhaps some of you might want to give this blogging a go yourself. Hey, if you want to put your toe in the water, drop me an email, leave me a comment and I’ll put up a guest entry.

But I’d also like to see a reboot of the vendor blogs; I’d like to see people write about things they feel passionately about, not just regurgitate the message that marketing have given them. If you work in marketing or social and you see something written that you don’t like; the first reaction should not be to try and get that person on-message; try to work out why that person is off-message and then whether it is legitimate. If it is full of inaccuracies, if it is leaking the companies secrets and if it is going to do the company serious harm; then have a discussion but you need to be aware that many of us really respect the nay-sayers and the outliers in your companies. At times we will be doing business with you because of that respect and it says a lot about a company’s culture if it embraces that openness.

Don’t turn your staff into something that resembles the village of Midwich.

Me, I’ll carry on what I’m doing; I’ll keep throwing bricks and sometimes bouquets. If I think the Emperor’s got no clothes…I’ll be the little boy who points at him and laughs.

But mostly, I’ll keep on doing this because it’s a lot of fun!!


#Storagebeers, SNIA Stuff

I posted a whilst ago giving early warning about a #storagebeers event in London.

This event will be Wednesday 23rd  May whilst most of the EMC storage world is partying in Vegas and having a great time (who knows, maybe one day I’ll work out how to get there). But we’ll hopefully also be having a good time as well in London.

1) It is Data Centre  Technology Academy time during the day;  come and heckle Alex McDonald or give him generous support as he works his way through a vendor-neutral presentation trying not to abuse his competitors. Always marvellous fun.

2) And then it will be London #storagebeers; Princess of Prussia is my proposed venue as it’s just a little walk from the DCTA venue. Hopefully then we’ll go and find somewhere to have a curry. I’m hoping we can get into Cafe Spice Namaste but failing that, we should be able to wander up the road and go to the Halal.

I’ve also been doing a little bit of work with SNIA Europe around how we get a bit more community involvement with SNIA and get more than the vendors involved. Please go here for the first SNIA Europe Blogger page/question…





Three is the Magic Number?

I never thought that I’d keep this going so long but it is now three years that I’ve been writing this blog. It’s still fun to do and keeps the mind going; sometimes I think it’s getting easier and then at times, I just sit here writing and re-writing the same sentence again and again!

It amazes me that people come and keep coming back to read more. It also amazes me when people actually write nice things about the blog even when I’ve been very critical of their company; the vendors have been incredibly supportive (no, no money has changed hands) as have my fellow bloggers.

I look back at some posts and wonder ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ and then there are others which I can read with pleasure. There are the posts which I know have changed things; encouraging and badgering  EMC to include VP as part of the standard stack with Symmetrix is something I am quietly proud to have influenced.

Its been interesting to watch the take-over shenanigans as the tier 2 companies have been gobbled up; leaving only NetApp really retaining its independence.

And now we have new wave of storage start-ups; many virtualisation focused and many trying to figure out the best way to deploy SSDs. How many of these will grow into take-over targets and can any of them become the next NetApp?

Then there is the growth of Cloud and what that means; does Cloud mean anything? It certainly still seems to mean many things to many people. From the consumer cloud to the private cloud; Cloudwashing is the order of the day!

So dear reader, thank-you for reading, thank-you for commenting and thank-you for the generally nice things you say about the blog.

Here’s to the next year and beyond.


So you’ve found the new place; congratulations!

I will be continuing to update the old site as well but I hope that you prefer this new site and will start to use this in preference. I can’t yet promise that everything will work and I’m still working out the plumbing but please stick with me. Fairly soon, I will be adding more content here but still in the typical Storagebod style!

And another year passes…

I'm not sure how this happened but I appear to have missed my 2nd anniversary of being a storage-blogger; I guess I'm certainly no longer the new boy and I'm not the only end-user storage-blogger these days, although we could do with more. 

I started blogging really as a reaction to all of the vendor blogs which were often full of FUD and marketing BS; I also felt it was about time that some-one started putting the user's case across; those poor misbegotten fools who have to get the latest product from HopkinVale to work. Personally, I think that the vendor blogs have got better but that might be because some of the vitriol has made it's way onto Twitter where it can be dispensed in near real-time. 

So what have I learnt over the past couple of years, pretty much all of it in one of deepest and longest lasting recessions that we have experienced?

If we take away certain technological differences; most storage vendors are pretty much in the same chapter, if not on the same page. There is a herd mentality which is pushing the whole IT infrastructure industry to trying to build stacks. These stacks may be as the result of partnerships but there are also companies who intend to build the whole stack themselves. Independent storage vendors may well struggle in such a tightly integrated market place; 3Par are no longer independent, who could fall next? Compellent? Isilon? NetApp or even the mighty EMC themselves? 

All we can say for sure is that with the crazy price that HP paid for 3Par is that no storage acquisition is going to be cheap now. 

Certainly it seems that most vendors want to do a good job for the customers even if they are completely clueless as to what the customer wants. But that's generally okay as often the customer really has no idea what they want. Strategic thinking currently in many places is still taking the form of 'how do I make it most awkward for my employer to make me redundant'. 

I've found myself hooked into the back-channel between vendors and become more aware of some of the friendships and quiet private respect that some of the vendors have for each other's employees. The public face often is not the private reality but I am also aware of some of the viscerality which transcends logic and is really quite silly. 

I find myself thinking more deeply about the industry and where it is going; it may lead me to changing things in my own career as I look to align with some of the more interesting trends. I find myself even more determined though to tread the sometimes hard path of the honest man and continue to question what I know is wrong or at least appears to me to be wrong. My integrity appears to have become even more important to me now that I appear to have an audience, fools that you are!

But most of all, I've found that I really enjoy this writing stuff! And I especially enjoy throwing the odd English phrase and word in just to educate our colonial brethren!

Thanks for reading…..


In Real Life!

'He's only a racist thug when he's drunk!'

'He's fine when you get to know him socially!'

'He's only a bully at work!'

'He's really nice in real life!'

I've heard all of these excuses but the last one is increasingly common and is generally a response to the question 'Is 'x' that much of a git in real life?'

We all have different personae depending on the situation but unacceptable behaviour is unacceptable behaviour where-ever you are; so it's about time that we stopped excusing bad behaviour in Social Media on the grounds that it's not real life.

For nearly thirty years, I've lived a portion of my life online; from 300 baud dial-up to 50Meg broadband, from text-based MUD to World of Warcraft; many of my closest friends have been met online and I suspect that more people know me by my online names as opposed to my 'real name'. 

For me, online is as much real as any other aspect of my life. I suspect it is increasingly true for a lot of you too.

'They started it!'

Disagreement, discourse, debate is all part of real life but do we conduct these in the manner of the playground or as grown-ups? And no-one cares who started it! And I keep wondering when one vendor twitterer is going to ask another one 'When did you stop beating your wife?' 

So let's make an effort to raise the current debates from the gutter and back onto the pavement.


Obviously, we all have different standards as to what is acceptable but if you wouldn't say it face-to-face, perhaps you shouldn't say it at all. Start treating online the same way as you do offline and I suspect you won't go far wrong. Some of you might be obnoxious gits offline but the ones of you that I have had the pleasure of meeting are generally charming, personable and I would happily share an evening chatting tech, life and everything with; it would be nice if your online behaviour matched.

'The Internet Doesn't Forget'

And let's just remember; once it's out there, getting it back is pretty hard! And you have a potential audience of many millions. 

Time to draw your horns in, take a deep breath, go outside and enjoy the summer (or the winter if you are an upside-down person). Or perhaps kill a few monsters?


Clusters, WNPoT and Great Blogs…

I was researching for a blog entry I was going to write about clustering, clustered file-systems and positing whether the future of x86 virtualisation was a Single System Image hypervisor allowing seamless automatic migration of virtual machines between hosts and whether we could see some kind of automated tiering for applications or whether just faking SSI with clever load-balancing/migration technologies might be good enough when I came across Greg Pfister's blog here

Greg wrote 'In Search of Clusters' which was pretty much the Bible when I was working in HPC and clustering; I don't know where my copy is any more unfortunately and I note that the publication date was in 1997; so it's probably a little bit out of date. But his blog is a great read and I can recommend it to anyone who is interested in virtualisation and Cloud; it'll fill the gap until he writes another book. 

And he points to another great blog written by Charlie Stross who has come up with the acronym 'WNPoT' which stands for Wonderful New Piece of Technology which I suspect is another way of saying 'Awesome Sauce'. 

p.s Yes, I suspect we will see some attempts at a SSI hypervisor; IBM have a statement of direction for z/VM leading down that route, so I expect some brave soul to try to do the same for x86. But for the time being, I think faking it with some good tools might be good enough. 

This Changes Everything…honest!

Val tweeted this and I kind of took exception to it as no where in the linked marketing fluff does it actually say that NetApp enabled Guitar Hero to beat Rockband to market. But it lead me to thinking about something; can a change in technology really lead to this kind of advantage? 

I don't think that the answer is all that clear cut, a change in technology can be the catalyst which enables a change in process; this can lead to an advantage. But is that change in technology actually necessary to enable to the change in process? And does the investment in new technology really pay off and how do you know? 

Marketing fluff is not a good place to start in evaluating whether new technology will actually pay off for you. 

No CIO is going to get up and say to his boss, 'You know that new technology that we bought, well it's a piece of crap! I was totally lead astray by the shiny-shiny lights and boy do I have egg on my face now!'

Equally no CIO is going to get up and say to his boss, 'That new technology that we bought well it's excellent and it has completely changed the way we work! But you know what, we didn't need to change the technology really, we could have just changed the way we work!'

So what happens is a jolly little cosey-up; a nice deal is cut, a bit of marketing fluff is sometimes agreed as exchange for a really great deal on price and everyone's happy. 

Cynical? Yes very! Does it happen? Sure it does, all the time. Whenever I see a press-release or a case-study, I always ask myself what deal was done to enable this; free services, an extra couple of points of discount? 

Sometimes, I think that we fail to see the wood for the trees in IT. If we want to institute major change; we change everything, whether we need to or not. How often do we see the tag-line 'This Changes Everything!'? How often does the question get asked whether everything needs to be changed as opposed to just changing something? As technologists, we look to change technology first and process second.  

All the changes that Chuck et all are talking about, evangelising about are completely worthless without process change but many of the benefits can be felt with a process change. You do not need a technology change to achieve many of the benefits or if you do; it does not need to be a huge technology change.

Actually if you try to do this without a huge technology change; you may reap more benefits. The problem with large technology changes is that you often fail to do anything with the legacy tail; you simply deploy new stuff onto the new technology. The legacy just sits and moulders, costing money to maintain and manage. Of course you could simply just decide not to maintain the legacy, which will save you money in the short-term but when it breaks, you could find yourself spend even more money trying to fix a system which no-one really understands. If you try to change the process before rolling in the new technology, you will probably stand a greater chance of dealing with the legacy tail.

So don't expect miracles from a change in technology! 

Without process change, technology changes are probably just cost!

People Trump Processes Trump Technology

Don't simply accept a vendor's claim that the only way to change your processes is to change to their technology!

When caught up in the new, don't forget the stuff your business runs on today!

Marketing folks even lie in their sleep, their dreams are the lies they plan to tell you tomorrow!


Like modern-day fairy dust, #awesomesauce can be liberally applied to everyday objects and make them appear special but like fairy dust, the illusion often fades. 

#awesomesauce has many uses in the world of IT

    It can bring the appearance of coherence 

    It can make accidental seem deliberate 

    It can make visions appear as solid objects

    It can make short-sightedness appear as focus

    It can make profligacy appear virtuous 

    It can turn OEM to OWN

    It can turn partnership into eternal bliss

After consuming #awesomesauce you may believe many things and you will be compelled to tell the world of the #awesomesauce you have just consumed!

But #awesomesauce needs to be consumed with care; for it can lead to a funny taste in the mouth and general feelings of nausea from both the diners but also everyone in contact with the diners.

There is much #awsomesauce around at the moment, so beware the #awesomesauce and the purveyors of #awesomesauce as unlike the tales of magic and fairy dust; there are no frog princes, Robespierre saw to that!  


The thing with the Internet, Social Media and all these wonderful technologies is that the world no longer stops at Kansas or where-ever else you happen to call home. The world is The World and it maybe time to start getting used to that. 

So if you work in PR, Marketing, Social Media and anything else which involves getting your message across to a global market, can I suggest that this list or something like it might be very useful. It stops you organising important webinars and events on major holidays. And yes, somewhere in the world is always on holiday but try to be aware of it. 

And then use it; for example, an invite to an event saying, we know it's a public holiday where you are but we've got this event which you might be interested in; however we understand if you can't make it and here is the link to where a recording of the event is being stored. 

Also if you've got storage announcements to make; here's a list of dates to avoid

    March 31st – my birthday!

    May 26th – little Bod's birthday!

    May 30th – my Wedding anniversary!

    July 21st – Mrs Bod's birthday!

I shall ignore the subject of EMC-World and the fact that it appears that the whole of EMC would turn into a giant pumpkin if it left North America.