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Achievement Unlocked

One of the books that I am currently reading is 'Reality is Broken' by Jane McGonigal; in it there is a startling fact; by the age of 21, the average young person in the UK will have spent 10,000 hours gaming. That's a boggling figure and yet one which doesn't really surprise me; the question is how do we draw on this wealth of experience and how do we draw on the power of games for more than just entertainment. This led me to musing on what a games oriented Storage Management system would look like and how the various gaming cultures may manifest themselves. 

Storage Management does actually lend itself well to a gaming paradigm; it is often a case of learning a task and repeating it ad infinitum; as you get better, you can move on to more complex tasks and indeed, you may even find shortcuts and hidden tricks to enable you to skip through the more tedious tasks. Storage Management often relies on the ability to plan, recognise patterns both simple and complex but most importantly, it requires the ability to convince one's self that a repeatative, tedious task is indeed fun!

I imagine that Hitachi could partner with Nintendo in the production of their new games oriented Storage Management system; a variety of power-ups would be available to you as you zone, mask and carve up LUNs. The successful completion of a task would result in the graphical representation of the disk turning into a giant fruit of some sort with your avatar doing a little dance perhaps after the collection of ten of these. 

Perhaps a variation of Pac-man could represent the act of de-allocation and returning the disk to a main-pool; the ghosts representing the avaricious users chasing the poor little storage admin around the maze trying to prevent him reclaiming the disk? Or perhaps, Pac-man could represent the act of deleting un-necessary files and the power-pills in the corner could represent some illicit file that the users should not be storing and the consumption of this temporarily causes the users to scury and deny knowledge of the file allowing the admin to delete files at will?

I could see IBM's Storage Management tool being text-based and along the lines of Crowther and Wood's Colossal Cave Adventure; 'you are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike'! Obscure commands such as Plover, XYZZY and Plugh will do magical things and make your life a lot easier. Very old-school, full of in-jokes and only really comprehensible to those of a certain age! Or perhaps a version of Space War?

EMC's Storage Management tool would be in the form of MMORPG; it would need a huge server farm to run and it takes ages to do anything until you had progressed to a certain level. At that point, you could purchase items which would enable you to do your job more efficiently; there would of course be no end to this and when-ever you believed that the game was beat, they would announce a new feature which would cost you yet more money and time to master. There would also be regular outages to upgrade the required hardware and data-centre to run the tool.

NetApp's Storage Management tool would be very similar to EMC's; there would be an online relgious war as to whose was best. The main difference would that NetApp's tool would be free initially but would require in-tool purchases to do anything at all useful. But it would be very quick and easy to master; probably suited to the more casual storage admin whereas EMC's would appeal to the hardcore gamer. 

Both EMC and NetApp would have unlockable achievements; 'Master of the Zones', 'Lover of LUNs', 'NASty Boy/Girl' etc; all entitling the Admin to different badges etc to be tweeted Four-Square fashion and irritate everyone else!

Of course, we would all be waiting for the combined IBM/EMC tool; this would be called 'Super Barryo World'!


  1. Ed says:

    Jane’s also done a TED talk:
    But I’m reminded of a port of Doom, that included a link to the process table – spawning monsters that you could shoot to alter their priority (or kill them entirely).
    I’ve often thought of EMC array management as akin to wizardry – when writing a symconfigure script, it’s either part of your own spellbook, or a scroll that you can pass on to a novice to cast.
    In either case, the higher ‘level’ you get, the more complicated you can do.
    You’ve even got the different schools of magic represented there – creation, transmutation (BCV -> STD, R1 -> R2), illusion (thin provisions and snaps)…
    And maybe the additional ‘wizardry’ of putting scripting layers around it – doing your divinations by exporting XML from your commands, parsing it in perl, and generating a report.
    Dark arts indeed!

  2. Martin G says:

    I did wonder if anyone would remember the port of Doom which allowed you to manage the process table!
    I’m waiting for SimDataCentre personally!!

  3. Martin,
    Love this! The upcoming generations will probably demand that that work be more game-based. You could be the leader! I for example have been attempting to teach myself a rather difficult foreign language recently (Malayalam). I ordered a language disk that uses a games model, and lo and behold, I’m finding myself addicted to it. Imagine if all learning and work tapped into this natural human desire to solve puzzles and fight invisible monsters. We’d all be so much more engaged, don’t you think?

  4. […] was reminded of this as I was reading a great post by storage blogger Storagebod who equated the different storage vendors and their array management […]

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