As EMC add yet another storage array to their product line-up in the form of Project Thunder or as I like to call it, The Thunderbox; questions are going to be asked about product confusion and clash. VMAX, VNX, vPlex, Isilon, Atmos and now Thunder form a product line which is formidable but may lack a certain amount of clarity.
But is this the problem that many of us think,maybe we need a different way of thinking? If you look at most workloads, I would say that about 80% of them could be met by a single product but the problem is which 80% and can the other 20% be met by another product? This would at least keep it down to two products.
However my experience is beginning to suggest otherwise and although a great majority of our workload can be met by a single solution; we have some some niche requirements which can only be met by specific tools. There is some irony that one of my niche requirements is actually general purpose IT storage but that’s the industry I work in; your niche requirements will probably be different but there is no point trying to hammer those requirements onto devices which will do a slightly less than adequate job at best.
At the moment, we manage over a dozen different storage technologies; granted some of them do overlap and some of them are only there because of slightly dubious requirements from application vendors but we don’t stress about a new technology coming in and supporting it. The principles for management are common and once you can manage one technology, you can pretty much manage them all.
Our job would be a lot harder if we tried to force applications onto a common platform; so despite appearances from the outside looking in, our platform’s complexity has actually ensured that our jobs are simpler.
What vendors could do and some have started to do is to ensure that their own product families have common interfaces with converged look and feel. IBM for example have made great strides in this and it is one thing that EMC could take away from IBM.
But a rich product set does not have to be complex although it does need to be explained so that customers understand the use case.