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Seller of Dreams

I like Chuck's blog, I suspect I'd like Chuck in the flesh as well; I like the seller of dreams. And that is what he does but I'm going to call EMC and him on the latest dream being sold. Not because it's not a good dream; it has potential to be a very good dream, if EMC can actually get a grasp of it.

About this time last year, EMC announced a product with a big fan-fare; you may remember it, it was called V-MAX and it was announced with a load of exciting features. Most importantly was FAST and it was to come in two tranches:-

FAST v1, which pretty much everyone not drinking the EMC kool-aid decided was not very exciting. In fact many people struggled to see what the difference between FAST V1 was and the existing SymOptimizer product…apart from the fact, that you could actually buy the SymOptimizer product!

FAST v2, which pretty much everyone who wasn't drinking somebody else's kool-aid decided was pretty damn exciting. Okay, Compellent had got there first but this was large Enterprise scale stuff. 

And here we are, pretty much a year on; FAST v1 struggled out of the door before the end of 2009 but we are now in 2010…another big EMC announcement, this time even more spectacular than the VMAX announcement. Spectacular in two ways

    1) The vision is huge; this is EMC's moonshot! 

    2) There is no product at present (but we are promised big things at EMC World)

Actually, comparing it to the moonshot may end up to be a very good comparison because when Kennedy announced the race to the Moon; the US were massively behind the Soviets. Arguably, EMC are massively behind companies like IBM who have a very good product in Sysplex but that's a mainframe product. 

But before getting to the moon; can you finish what you've started elsewhere? So you before you start on the grandiose plans, deliver what you explicitly promised last year; that is block-level FAST working with virtually-provisioned volumes. Because at the moment, it looks like 3PAR have beaten you to the punch!

And howabout delivering what you have been promising in private for some time; a light-weight, performant and reliable SRM tool? 

So EMC get:-

A* for Ambition

C- for Delivery

p.s Chuck, if you manage to get the moon, work out what you are going to do there! It'd be unfortunate to get there and for everyone to applaud the effort and then simply get on doing what they were doing before. Make sure that people actually want this, not a few sad geeky dreamers.

p.p.s Still I note from the Now web-site, despite Alex's assurances that OnTap 8 was going to be GA next week and this was some weeks ago; OnTap 8 is still sitting at RC3. 


  1. Marc Farley says:

    If EMC builds it, maybe James Earl Jones will will help with the launch. BTW, did you ever see Muppets in Space? Pepe the Prawn talks through a fan for ghostly effect, and says, “Build a jacuzzi and we will come, okay?” A wonderful moment.

  2. Martin G says:

    Big Muppets fans in this house…or just generally Jim Henson in general.
    Hey, time for a storage bloggers as Muppets post!

  3. Chuck Hollis says:

    Hi Martin
    “Seller Of Dreams” — I think I like that.
    Regarding FAST delivery — does it matter (ultimately) who is first with a feature, or does it matter who does the best job of implementing it?
    And regarding this latest salvo around virtual storage / geographic federation / distributed cache coherency — yep, there’s no product we’re talking about yet, so your comments are fair.
    But let me put this to you — would you rather live in a world where EMC *didn’t* do this sort of stuff? You know, kept it simple, boring and pedestrian?

  4. Martin G says:

    I like grandiose visions and heroic failure is always much more interesting than simply having no ambition and not trying but then again the great Oscar did say ‘Ambition is the last refuge of failure’.
    And although it doesn’t matter who is first with a feature, it does actually matter whether you actually deliver it at all!
    I’m sure Barry will be along in a minute to say it’s nearly done and is GA next week! Just like Alex did with OnTap 8!

  5. John Dias says:

    Martin, while I appreciate the mention of Compellent I want to comment on a couple of things in your post.
    First, as far as I know there is NO reason Compellent’s Fluid Data architecture won’t scale and meet the demands of a large enterprise.
    Second, I’m not sure that you can equate either FAST 2 (whatever that may end up being) or 3PAR’s “Adaptive Optimization with SSD” with each other and certainly not with us. There are key differences. Not saying “bad differences” but in this case a rose is not a rose.
    I will agree with you that Chuck spins a good tale! Talk to our customers and see if we promise more than we deliver.

  6. Martin G says:

    I didn’t say that your architecture didn’t scale but Compellent appear to have wisely taken the decision at present to stay out of the large Enterprise cat-fight. Remarkably sensible, don’t fight over the cream; it’s full of fat and might kill you.
    But, as for your different products; if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it probably is a duck and even if it scores two out of three, it’s not a horse now is it?
    You are all trying to do the same thing really; that is automated tiering.

  7. Marc Farley says:

    OMG, Storage bloggers as muppets! I can’t wait.

  8. Obligatory-don’t-make-Martin-a-liar-post:
    I don’t understand why you say FAST v1 “struggled” – it was delivered in the middle of Q4 (November) on Symm (as promised), and before the end of that quarter on CLARiiON, just as promised.
    Indeed, FAST v2 is on schedule for delivery this year as promised. Not next week, but I’d say there’s an even chance FAST v2 will beat Ontap 8 to GA.
    You shouldn’t be surprised that EMC has multiple promises to the market simulataneously – especially when they are complimentary and even foundational to our singuler overall mission of providing the Information Infrastructure to enable Private Cloud-based computing.
    Maybe I should be The Count, ticking off promises kept:
    * ONE! Cache Partitioning & Priority Controls for Symm (check!)
    * TWO! SATA drives across Symm+CLARiiON+Celerra (check!)
    * THREE! Symmetrix Management Console (check!)
    * FOUR! Flash Drives across Symm+CLARiiON+Celerra(check!)
    * FIVE! Virtual Provisioning on Symm+CLARiiON+Celerra(check!)
    * SIX! V-Max, Purpose-built for the Virtual Data Center (check!)
    * SEVEN! FAST v1 on Symm+CLARiiON+Celerra (check!)
    * EIGHT! FAST v2 (pending)
    * NINE! Local Federation (pending)
    * TEN! Global Federation (pending)
    That’s TEN, TEN, TEN! enabling technologies for the Journey to the Private Cloud!!!
    You shouldn’t be surprised that EMC has multiple promises to the market simulataneously – especially when they are complimentary to our singuler overall mission of providing the Information Infrastructure to enable Private Cloud-based computing.
    Collectively, these parallel projects define both the path and the destination of Virtual Storage, arguably the cornerstone of the virtualized data center.

  9. Han Solo says:

    The interesting thing with EMC’s vision compared to Kennedy’s vision.
    It would probably be cheaper for us to start our own lunar space program than to actually buy this EMC stuff when it comes out.

  10. Martin G says:

    Okay Barry, it felt looking from the outside that FAST v1 on Symmetrix struggled out of the door. It didn’t feel like the smoothest of deliveries; perception may not be reality but perception often trumps reality.

  11. stewey says:

    Late comment –
    1) NetApp ONTAP 8 is GA… So, I wish there would have been some bets on the table!
    2) All currently implementations of FASTv1 are based on existing products. In the DMX world, it’s Optimizer, in the Celerra world it’s Rainfinity FMA. I don’t know what it is in the CX world, but I’m pretty sure it’s an existing product.
    3) EMC is famous for pre-announcing product in an effort to be first to the table. They also want you to WAIT until you buy from a competitor, whom already has the technology.
    4) I find it funny that EMC is so proud of their SMC product. The fact is that if you didn’t use that product, managing virtual storage pools, FAST policies, and LUN migration would be nearly impossible and/or require a fleet of EMC contractors.

  12. Have to agree with you Stewey.
    EMC see are sounding like Microsoft more and more.Running around town promoting Futures. Its a dangerous game as Futures never seem to be as the slidedeck illustrates.
    1) Fast has been slow on pickup because it doesnt come with all the fruit but its free. But Wait we will now charge for V2, Nothing like giving the customer a big FU on that one
    2) Data Ontap 8 is GA
    3) Attendence for EMC world is down on expectations. Could it be a sign that customers are getting tired of EMC’s Spindoctoring techniques
    4)EMC’s “moonshot” sounds like one of those missions where once you get to the moon and have look around and go Jeez, Not very interesting at all.
    I’d suggest that EMC spend more time fixing up their product ranges and demystifying their products then diverting their customers away from their deficiencies.
    Great Post Martin

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