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Digital Transformation

EMC Leads the Storage Market for a Reason

By Randy Weis, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne

There are reasons that EMC is a leader in the market. Is it because they come out first with the latest and greatest technological innovation? No, or at least not commonly. Is it because they rapidly turn over their old technology and do sweeping replacements of their product lines with the new stuff? No. It’s because there is significant investment in working through what will work commercially and what won’t and how to best integrate the stuff that passes that test into traditional storage technology and evolving product lines.

Storage Admins and Enterprise Datacenter Architects are notoriously conservative and resistant to change. It is purely economics that drives most of the change in datacenters, not the open source geeks (I mean that with respect), mad scientists and marketing wizards that are churning out & hyping revolutionary technology. The battle for market leadership and ever greater profits will always dominate the storage technology market. Why is anyone in business but to make money?

Our job as consulting technologists and architects is to match the technology with the business needs, not to deploy the cool stuff because we think it blows the doors off of the “old” stuff. I’d venture to say that most of the world’s data sits on regular spinning disk, and a very large chunk of that behind EMC disk. The shift to new technology will always be led by trailblazers and startups, people who can’t afford the traditional enterprise datacenter technology, people that accept the risk involved with new technology because the potential reward is great enough. Once the technology blender is done chewing up the weaker offerings, smart business oriented CIOs and IT directors will integrate the surviving innovations, leveraging proven manufacturers that have consistent support and financial history.

Those manufacturers that cling to the old ways of doing business (think enterprise software licensing models) are doomed to see ever-diminishing returns until they are blown apart into more nimble and creative fragments that can then begin to re-invent themselves into more relevant, yet reliable, technology vendors. EMC has avoided the problems that have plagued other vendors and continued to evolve and grow, although they will never make everyone happy (I don’t think they are trying to!). HP has had many ups and downs, and perhaps more downs, due to a lack of consistent leadership and vision. Are they on the right track with 3PAR? It is a heck of a lot more likely than it was before the acquisition, but they need to get a few miles behind them to prove that they will continue to innovate and support the technology while delivering business value, continued development and excellent post-sales support. Dell’s investments in Compellent, particularly, bode very well for the re-invention of the commodity manufacturer into a true enterprise solution provider and manufacturer. The Compellent technology, revolutionary and “risky” a few years ago, is proving to be a very solid technology that innovates while providing proven business value. Thank goodness for choices and competition! EMC is better because they take the success of their competitors at HP and Dell seriously.

If I were starting up a company now, using Kickstarter or other venture investment capital, I would choose the new products, the brand new storage or software that promises the same performance and reliability as the enterprise products at a much lower cost, knowing that I am exposed to these risks:

  • the company may not last long (poor management, acts of god, fickle investors) or
  • the support might frankly sucks, or
  • engineering development will diminish as the vendor investors wait for the acquisition to get the quick payoff.

Meanwhile, large commercial organizations are starting to adopt cloud, flash and virtualization technologies precisely for all the above reasons. Their leadership needs to drive profitability into the datacenter technologies to increase speed to market and improve profitability. As the bleeding edge becomes the smart bet as brought to market by the market leading vendors, we will continue to see success where Business Value and Innovation intersect.