#awesomesauce isn’t cricket, Part One.

Before I get started with this week’s Weekly View, quite a few people have asked me how the VDC: VCE vBlock 2 launch went on Friday 21 May.  I’ve thought a lot about the answer as I don’t wish to appear flippant, so I’d say we should be pleased …but not satisfied.  There were many positives, indeed it isn’t every day that we get Simon Walsh and a vendor partner MD in Adrian McDonald of EMC to host an exclusive customer launch for a market leading solution where we continue to hold first mover advantage.  Of the forty customers who had confirmed to attend only three didn’t show to an event held on a Friday from 13:00 – 15:30.  In Hatfield.  When it was 24C without a cloud in the sky.

And here I was convinced 50% of attendees wouldn’t show as they were firing up their barbecues!  My sincere thanks to the customers who came out and worked with us on the day.

Not a single customer dropped out through the presentation and demos, and what was fascinating to me was that after we had presented the solution and during the panel Q&A with Simon, Adrian, Paul Casey, a customer from a legal firm, Chris Vance of Cisco, and yours truly …not a single customer asked why deploy a virtualised datacentre but, rather, how and when.  There were some great customer queries and the Q&A could have easily gone on for another hour …needless to say, we learned as much from the questions being asked as perhaps attendees did from the answers being given.  Heck, we even impressed an analyst from IDC who said in an email after the event, “It was an excellent event. To see the vBlock system in operation, plus the evident commitment and expertise of CC, was a very compelling proposition.”

We also launched the eagerly anticipated Optimised Environment app, based on the original VDC cube.  Click here to view a brief video of the Optimised Environment app in action!

Watch out for more VDC customer events as we continue to build VDC solutions in the Solution Centre and, as always, feel free to bring your customers to Hatfield for presentations and demonstrations of our VDC solutions.

And so it was perhaps the 24C weather which got me thinking about cricket and my getting engaged to Mrs. PL in what seems like a world away.

I met the future Mrs. PL, born and raised in London, when I was working in Ireland [long story, but I promise to tell it in the Weekly View someday if you like] and I’ll never forget a brief conversation I overhead between herself and a family friend during our engagement party.

‘So tell me, are you excited to be getting married?’

‘Yes, absolutely …and I’m delighted that he was born in the United States.’

‘Really, how so?’

‘Well, I’ve always wanted to live in Manhattan and I’d be eligible for a passport …and then there’s the fact that I won’t be a football, rugby, or cricket widow!’

Hope may have been permanently dashed after Mrs. PL and I had a long chat about how living in NYC is nothing like ‘Sex and the City’ and I much prefer London.  Couple this with the fact that I woke up at 05:00 on our honeymoon in St. Lucia so I could watch a French TV transmission from Martinique of the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, have a season ticket to Watford FC, and have got into more than one ‘robust discussion’ with Mrs. PL when I refused to go out due to a key cricket test and you can see why perhaps Mrs. PL is somewhat peeved at having thought marriage to an immigrant meant freedom from sporting widow status.  Best not to discuss living arrangements for the forthcoming World Cup.

What’s this got to do with Data Storage and Protection?

It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that I love cricket.  Indeed, I can think of no better way to spend a day than watching the cricket with cucumber sandwiches and jugs of Pimms and, whilst I promise not to turn this Weekly View into a cricket column, how can you not love a sport which takes lunch and tea intervals?!

But when I say cricket, I mean cricket of the test variety.  Try as I might, I just can’t get into the Twenty20 nor One Day International varieties.  I suppose this is because I am fascinated by the strategy and skill required to win a test and a test series which could be papered over or prove not relevant in the shorter Twenty20 and ODIs.  The preparation to win an Ashes series, from the strategy to team selection to batting order and the captain’s field plan, can often begin years in advance.

Having been born in the United States I do have an appreciation for cricket’s distant cousin in American baseball, but there is one critical difference between the two …with baseball a team can not do particularly well for 8 and a half innings and then, but a stroke of luck [no pun intended] a solid hit here and there loads the bases.  Send in your designated batting lumper and hey, presto …you’ve won the game.  With cricket, it’s all about consistency.  You have to have a batting order comprised of batsmen who can stand at the crease and bat for hours against all types of deliveries and delivery speeds.  There really is no lucky ‘home run’ concept to be found in cricket.

One of my favourite cricket books which has much to teach not only about cricket but about life and business is The Art of Captaincy by Mike Brearley where many of the concepts I’ve described above are discussed in great detail.  My other favourite cricket book is Penguins Stopped Play by Harry Thompson as I suppose I hold out hope that as PL Junior gets older I’ll have the good fortune to live a vicarious cricketing life through him or even get the chance to play with other cricket fanatics who are more than likely a bit hopeless when it comes to actually playing.

But I digress …I see many parallels between the skills and strategy required to win at cricket as I do with the design and execution of data storage specifically and virtualised datacentres generally.

I’ll discuss one of them now with a view to completing this series in next week’s Weekly View.

1. Without a plan, it becomes difficult to direct resources efficiently and effectively …particularly when events change ‘on the ground’.

No great test series, from the great Ashes Bodyline Tour of 1932-1933 to the closely fought Ashes of 2005 which saw the Ashes returned to England for the first time in 18 years, were won by individual heroics alone.  Rather, the planning began years in advance of the series with different scenarios played out well beforehand to ensure consistency if indeed events changed on the ground.

This equally, if even more true, with data storage.  As I’ve discussed in recent posts, nothing is designed to deliver miracles …especially data storage.  Whilst others in our industry may choose to think differently, my view is that thin provisioning, data deduplication, automated storage provisioning, automated storage tiering such as FAST, zero page reclamation are technology enablers and not saviours.

How you use these technologies is probably of far greater importance than what they actually are.

Having a storage strategy which looks at what the current business issues are, what they might be in the future, budget considerations, and so on is of prime importance.  I’ve discussed how we look at these variables and design solutions in other posts and we also have a Storage Assessment & Strategy Service including a customer free to use Storage Resource Analysis portal.

In keeping with the theme of cricket and test series, we’ll complete this series by reviewing four more parallels between cricket and technology in next week’s Weekly View.


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