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The Value of Curiosity

One of the questions which often comes up in interviews is what is your greatest strength? It’s a lazy question and comes from the standard text. And everyone has their answer off pat, I ask it hoping to get an original answer and only rarely do I get answer which surprises me.

Anyway I have my answer down pat as well…I’m intensely curious,  I’ve never grown out of the why stage of my life but instead of bugging my parents, I bug myself and go and find out myself. 

Now if the interviewer gets the answer, I probably want to work for them and if the interviewer doesn’t; it’s probably never going to work out. I think curiosity is a much under-valued trait, wanting to know what’s on the other side of the hill is what drives us forward.  Hey it might kill cats but I'm not a cat

And that’s why I love things like Twitter and Blogs, it lets me find out lots of stuff; a lot of it useless but some of it profoundly useful. I get to talk to people who I wouldn’t normally have a chance to talk with. That’s why sometimes the various vendor blogs that seem to enjoy throwing mud as opposed to telling me about their product and what it can do for me really irritate me at times as they add very little to my learning.

We’re heading into a big year of product announcements, can I respectfully ask that the vendor bloggers do their best to talk about their products and what they can do? And not what the opposition can’t do? If I see a cool new feature, I can find out for myself if someone else also has it.

p.s the funniest answer to the question ‘What’s your greatest strength?’ I’ve heard of is a guy who worked for me who during a HR interview answered ‘Okay, I’ll give you a strength and then you’ll ask me what my greatest weakness is? I’ll give you a weakness which I cleverly twist into a strength. So my greatest strength is I don’t answer stupid questions!’. He’d already got the job at this point but he started off with ‘TROUBLE’ written on his file.

All Blogged Up

Since I've started this blog, I have been amazed to discover just how many storage blogs are out there. Now, I know most of you don't write them out of the goodness of your hearts but I do appreciate that many of them do write them in your own time.

Now a lot of them are full of marketing stuff but a lot of it is educational, interesting and often entertaining. They can get a bit confrontational at times but at least you are showing passion for the companies you work for and the products you sell. Actually some of you show far too much passion and I wonder about some of the induction regimes you go through!

And then, there are the mad independants. Of course, we all have our reasons for doing it; I suspect most of us like our own little soap-box to pontificate, I know I do. I also hope that we bring a little bit of balance to what are sometimes quite heated debates! We often have the real world experience of the products that you may be pushing or trashing, we know that things are very rarely black or white. There is no perfect storage product!

Can I ask one thing of the vendors please? I don't expect you to be experts on the opposition's product, certainly not how they might work but you should really be careful about features. Nothing looses credibility more in my eyes than when a vendor says that a competing product can't do x, y or z? And it can. Do your competitive analysis well and if you don't know for sure, ask someone. Ask me; if I know, I'll give the answer if I can (I'm pretty good on ESS/DS, SVC, DMX, Clariion and OnTap). I might even ask for you if you are too embarassed. Now I won't disclose NDA stuff, well not sober anyway 😉

BTW, I'm trying to come up with some more analogies after the success of the 'WAFL is a Platypus' (that would make such a good t-shirt) and it's a pity that Accelerate was cancelled; I would have loved to Kostadis get up and do a talk about WAFL entitled 'WAFL is a Platypus'.

Five Pineapples

Thinking Problem Management blog has now awarded me Five Pineapples. I'm a bit concerned that I was boring about EMC NDAs, I don't consciously remember being boring about EMC NDAs. But I'm extremely sorry if I was!! I'll try to be equally boring about NetApp, 3PAR and IBM et al NDAs in future; I don't want to be seen to have any bias!!

Actually NDAs are incredibly tedious and especially being under multiple vendor NDAs, I find at times having to tread a very precarious line. Especially one vendor is going on about their unique feature which they are going to launch and you are sitting there thinking, 'Not as unique as you think!'

And then there is whole thing of knowing more about upcoming products than the 'poor' sales-guy in front of you.

But the worse type of NDA is when a problem is discovered which could have dramatic implications to the whole community of fellow Storagebods! And then you get NDAed and you can't tell anyone! Full disclosure should be allowed; we should be able to tell people that they could be sitting on a ticking time-bomb. Of course, the vendor who thinks that we don't unofficially do so….is seriously misguided.

Death of iSCSI

I wonder if the death of iSCSI (I Still Can't Sell It according to some my friends in the Fibre Industry) is going to be like the death of the mainframe? I really think it is too soon to write obituaries yet; I think iSCSI will just happily sit in it's natural market place which I think is the SMB sector. It's not glamorous, it's not sexy but it's a large market and DCE is just going to be too expensive for those guys for quite a while.

Not everything is about the Enterprise market, just as recent events have shown that not everything is about the Finance Sector. Of course, if we get this huge virtualised cloud and SMBs simply buy server-space and compute power from the cloud providers; then iSCSI might have a problem.

And geekboy that I am, I quite like iSCSI because it means I can play with certain aspects of SAN technology at home; even my extremely tolerant wife would probably draw the line at me running fibre round the house and installing fibre channel switches, arrays etc. Still, next time we have the house re-wired; I'm going to have some form of structured cabling put in; I will have a 10GbE back-bone!!

BTW Chuck, unless the Iomega StorCenter comes in different colours; it's never going to get WAF here. I found the best solution was to build my own using an old laptop with a couple of 2.5" drives and because it's a laptop; it has a built-in UPS; I just stow it in a cupboard, out of sight. At the moment; it's pretending to be a Celerra.

Four Pineapples

Well it’s a long time since I won an award for anything but my blog has been awarded Four Pineapples by Thinking Problem Management blog!! Made my day!! Hey, even the legendary Tom Peters only managed three!!!

A Newish Blog

I missed this in my regular trawl for new storage blogs! A blog authored by Moshe and the guys at XIV.

And although I’m sure the guys are more intelligent than me but I just don’t get what they are trying to say. Well, I do but the blog appears to be smoke and mirrors at the moment.

From the blog

Here are our final conclusions:

  1. 7200RPM drives are much more cost efficient, energy saving, and dense.
  2. There is no real problem in satisfying overall business needs with 7200RPM drives, assuming the proper architecture is in place.
  3. We need a storage architecture that will enable us to really exploit all drives equally, without manual tuning. We can’t afford having 80% of our transactions handled by only 20% of our disk drives.

Well duh to points 1 & 3; well certainly cost with regards to capacity but I don’t get point 2 even trying to follow the logic. Lets say I have an application suite which peaks at 32,000 IOPs and this is alot of small block random read I/O, so not especially cache friendly; so I’m going to need about 320 7200RPM spindles (and I’m excluding any overhead for RAID of any kind and I am going to assume that I can evenly spread my load across spindles).

However, my application only needs about 26 Terabytes of disk; I am looking at wasting a huge amount of available capacity on the larger SATA drives, what I really need is fast, smaller disks. Flash is still a little bit expensive for us at the moment.

Pity my workload won’t even fit on an XIV at the moment either

Or perhaps the key word is ‘satisfying overall business needs’ and that XIV will fulfill 80% of my requirements but so would Clariion/NetApp/DS4800 etc. This feels very much like a Generation 1 product, call us in 18 months please.

I’ll keep following the blog tho’; it’ll make me smile!!!