I need to be brief with this Weekly View as it is PL Junior’s birthday today, and Mrs. PL has made it quite clear that I am required to help setup for his party …and ensuring I don’t bore our guests with analogies of birthday cake slices and how they remind me of data deduplication.
But with guests coming over later this evening, I got to thinking again about our recent holiday. As I said last week, this is the second year running that we went to the same resort in Malta on holiday. Last year PL Junior as just learning how to swim and, as he was just turning two, wasn’t yet to the point where he would play with children he didn’t know. Equally, as only about twenty percent of the folks holidaying in this resort are British, there were many children speaking a multitude of languages that PL Junior didn’t understand. This year saw many changes, from PL Junior spending nigh on six hours a day in the pool and, interestingly PL Junior developed a relationship with three Norwegian children whom he played with non stop. Did PL Junior suddenly become a fluent Norwegian speaker? Nope, didn’t understand a word of what the three children aged three, five, and nine were saying …nor they him …but between my German, my wife’s French, and the Norwegian parents’ English we were able to find enough common ground to enable us to go out to dinner together and generally enjoy one another’s company. PL Junior continues to ask for Markhus, Khristof, and Nikolay and when we are going to go back to Malta to play with them …and Mrs. PL and I have a standing invitation to come to Norway with PL Junior to ski in their family chalet.
What does this have to do with data storage and protection?
The sale of enterprise [e.g. EMC Symmetrix] and modular storage [e.g. EMC CLARiiON] ‘crossed over’ during the last recession in 2000 / 2001, with modular storage sales overtaking enterprise for the first time and, since then, modular storage sales have continued to rise whilst enterprise have continued to decline. There are many reasons for this, but customers realised that they could achieve similar performance and reduced complexity with modular storage at a price significantly lower to enterprise. We are about to see a similar ‘paradigm shift’ as enterprise and modular storage converge. You can tell your friends that you heard it here first, and there are storage products on the market today which represent the future converged enterprise/modular arrays as I’ve described …think IBM XiV and EMC Vmax …and trust me when I tell you that other major vendors such as NetApp, HDS, and HP aren’t far behind.
As the storage arrays converge we will be able to provide customers performance, high utilisation, and decreased management complexity without sacrificing quality and, perhaps most importantly, at a competitive cost. But as this convergence occurs, how will customers be able to differentiate one solution from another to satisfy their business needs …or will they all look the same?
No, I can assure you that, whilst they will seek to achieve the same outcomes, how they get there will continue to be different. IBM XiV solves the grid architecture question by using a massively parallel SATA array and using software to allow storage to be ‘written‘ across all the drives thus giving high performance to all applications equally …whereas EMC takes a different view with Vmax useing mixed solid state drives, fibre channel drives, and SATA drives with software to ‘promote‘ and ‘demote‘ storage as application demands require. Equally, storage vendors will seek to differentiate their products with features …whilst they will all provide thin provisioning, vendors are now going to war re how their thin provisioning works. To wit, they go to great pains to explain ‘chunklets’, or how large a thin provisioned block they will use. It is now being argued that use a chunk too large and you may negate the very applicability of thin provisioning long term, whereas use a chunk too small and you may overrun the onboard storage cache and negatively affect performance. HDS uses 42 MB chunk sizes to allow for their thin provisioning solution to execute zero page reclamation, thus ‘reclaiming’ up to 30% of previously allocated storage back into the storage pool as fully usable …thus equating to cost savings …whilst EMC uses 768K chunklets as this is optimised for performance on their systems.
Who is right and, more importantly …what to do? Firstly, they are all correct …and all incorrect! The solutions will all technically ‘work, however what matters is what the customer is trying to accomplish and the business issue(s) we are trying to solve. This is where Computacenter comes in as our vendor agnostic yet vendor selective consultancy practice enables us to firstly understand how each of our vendor partners accomplish things like grid architecture, thin provisioning, and chunklet size …and secondly, which vendor or vendors can demonstrably solve the customer business issue(s). Just like PL Junior and our new Norwegian friends, there are folks who can translate what is being said at the bits an bytes level into real world cost reduction and the solving of business issues.
What sometimes happens, however, is that the most applicable solution could actually involve more than one vendor …but as we’re trying to reduce complexity, not introduce more many customers decide to go ‘sole vendor’. Again, this is where Computacenter come in as …just as we parents helped PL Junior and the Norwegian children understand one another …Computacenter can provide consultancy, implementation, and support services which span multiple vendors thus providing customers with the best of breed solution at a fair cost without increasing complexity.
Mrs. PL and PL Junior have already stated their intention for us to holiday with our new Norwegian friends next year, and I plan to work a bit more on my Norwegian before we go away. In the interim, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance in helping to articulate the ‘why Computacenter’ for you …our customers.
Have a great weekend.