It seemed only moments after EMC announced its ViPR software-defined storage platform at EMC World this week that the attack dogs (primarily its competitors) were out in full force pointing out ViPR’s shortcomings and attacking its merits. But its competitors need to be careful how they go about discrediting EMC’s version of software-defined storage. EMC promoting it will lift the entire software-defined storage tide and help make it a viable option for end-users which many want and need.

EMC’s competitors have a love-hate relationship with EMC. They all know who EMC is. They almost inevitably say they have a better story or technology than EMC. They all love to discredit any new technology that EMC releases. Despite all of these benefits they allegedly offer over EMC’s storage, EMC has a number of advantages over them that they tend to neglect to bring up.

  1. EMC hosts conferences like EMC World which attracts 15-20,000 attendees (Does the competitor even have enough users to host a user’s conference?)
  2. EMC has the “black helicopter” aspect of support nailed.  (Having a couple of engineers available to talk to you on the phone in the middle of the night does not count.)
  3. EMC is a marketing machine. (Can their competitors spell “marketing?”)

Reasons like these push companies over the finish line and prompt them to seal the deal with EMC. While companies want “good” or even the “best” technology, they also want to know that the solution they are acquiring is used by other tech people in the industry, that they can access the level of support that they need when they need it and that when they are meeting with executives to present their technology plan it is authoritative and well-researched. While some of their competitors can claim some of these features, only EMC can claim all of them.

This level of contact and support that EMC has with the end-user community particularly comes into play when introducing a “new” technology like software-defined storage. While the technology behind software-defined storage is not really “new” as I discussed earlier this week, the phrase itself is fairly new and seems to be resonating with end-users. So EMC putting its weight behind will help to move it forward and gain momentum which ultimately helps everyone.

This makes it so imperative for the rest of the industry to be very cautious about how aggressively it attacks EMC on this technology or its use of this term. Users as a whole need software-defined storage to better manage their storage environment and at this point are receptive to learning more about it. So anything that the industry can do to help a buyer associate software-defined storage with “good” is … good.

This is a point in time where those in the storage industry need to tread carefully. If the industry starts attacking software-defined storage as a whole, it risks creating the impression that “software-defined storage” is somehow “bad.” This is bad. Buyers will get skittish and then not move forward with this technology. This hurts more than EMC. It hurts their competitors as well as end users who need this technology – some in the worst way possible.

Software-defined storage is a long overdue technology (like ten years overdue) and the storage industry largely blew it last time when it was introduced as storage virtualization and storage resource management (SRM). Now it is getting a chance to correct that mistake in the form of software-defined storage.

The key to correcting it is to present software-defined storage as “good‘ as a whole so it does not leave a negative connotation when users think of it. Once that impression is created, it is then that vendors should seek to point out how their software-defined storage offering does a better job of meeting a specific user’s requirements. Failing to first create this “good” impression of software-defined storage means vendors once again risk waiting another ten (10) or more before users are again open to adopting this technology..

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