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One door closes, another opens

I find the announcements of the past few weeks from EMC and NetApp around their cloud storage offerings really interesting; it shows an interesting contrast at the moment in approach. One increasingly controlling and one lessening control. 

EMC finally announced a software appliance version of Atmos allowing you to use Atmos with any storage which is certified with VMWare; this is a long overdue move, it's been pretty much an open secret that a software version of Atmos has been existence since prior to launch. It is a software product.

And NetApp announced the repackaged Bycast StorageGrid product; a software product which supported a number of third party storage devices but now only supports NetApp storage. 

As I look at storage and the provision of storage in my working life, I am finding more and more features moving up the stack into the software layer, storage infrastructure is becoming more and more hardware agnostic. More and more the value-add sits above the storage array controller; I can buy pretty much any array and stick it behind a software layer which gives me all the features that I require. 

Beyond the basic provision of RAID, the value of the array in such an infrastructure is pretty minimal and with object stores, even the value of RAID must be questionable. Yes, I can use third party storage with the StorageGrid product but I need to now put it behind a vSeries; this seems to add an unnecessary layer. EMC's move of using a hypervisor layer to ensure that they are dealing with a known environment feels much more sensible in this case.

Yes in generalised block-level; NetApp, IBM and HDS really currently are streets ahead in virtualising third party storage but if EMC start to make even more use of hypervisor layer; they could make real strides in this. Certainly in the mid-range, less performance sensitive space; this approach may just be good enough. 

So I really struggle to see the logic in the NetApp move; mass object storage is about commoditisation and moving features to a more independent layer. And it's also kind of wierd to be in the position where EMC actually give you more choice about your back-end storage than NetApp; it is simply wrong! *shudder*

It's also pretty cool to be able to pretty much build a complete virtual data-centre on my desktop PC using virtual appliances and software layers of various flavours; pity none of them are NetApp's at the moment as they are simply too limited. 

And Barry W, if you read this; pull your finger out and get a virtual SVC appliance available; how hard can it be??

p.s Hah, how many people read the title and thought….another blogger going to join EMC!? 



  1. Scott Lowe says:

    Well, upon reading the title I *did* think that there was some sort of change taking place, either personal or professional. However, I did *not* think that you were joining the Enormously Massive Corporation, as we all know that would be just too much of a stretch. 🙂

  2. Chuck Hollis says:

    Hi Martin
    Yes, when I saw the title I thought this was about some impending career move or another.
    But, in one sense, you’re quite right.
    We’re starting to fully internalize the notion of functionality in software (prefer virtualized, thanks) and creating more agnosticism in the various hardware bits.
    That’s what the market seems to want, so that’s what we have to go do. Thanks for sharing …
    — Chuck

  3. “p.s Hah, how many people read the title and thought….another blogger going to join EMC!?”
    Guilty as charged. 😉

  4. What a shame Martin. I had a nice corner office reserved for you! 🙂

  5. Barry Whyte says:

    The problem is persistence… VM’s can’t guarantee anything….
    Storage, you have to guarantee everything.
    I didn’t think the same – i thought the “another slams in your face” option, but i did get offered a new job last week, but i’m enjoying it where i am too much to take it up!

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