I’m all for a good fight, but in the storage industry it seems that all too many creative liberties are taken when competing.
Let’s assume, for a moment, that we’re talking about the car industry instead. I like cars, and I love car analogies. So we’ll use that, and it illustrates the absurdity really well.
The competitors in this example will be BMW and Mercedes. Nobody would argue that they are two of the most prominent names in luxury cars today.
BMW has the high-performance M-series. Let’s take as an example the M6 – a 500HP performance coupe. Looks nice on paper, right?
Let’s say that Mercedes has this hypothetical new marketing campaign to discredit BMW, with the following claims (I need to, again, clarify that this campaign is entirely fictitious, and used only to illustrate my point, lest I get attacked by their lawyers):
- Claim the M6 doesn’t really have 500HP, but more like 200HP.
- Claim the M6 only does 0-60 in under 5 seconds with only 5% of the gas tank filled, a 50lb driver, downhill, with a tail wind and help from nitrous.
- Claim that if you fill the gas tank past 50%, performance will drop so the M6 does 0-60 in more like 30 seconds. Downhill.
- Claim that it breaks like clockwork past 5K miles.
- Claim that they have one, they tested it, and performs as they say.
- Claim that, since they are Mercedes, the top name in the automotive industry, you should trust them implicitly.
Imagine Mercedes, at all levels, going to market with this kind of information – official company announcements, messages from the CEO, company blogs, engineers, sales reps, dealer reps and mechanics.
Now, imagine BMW’s reaction.
How quickly do you think they’d start suing Mercedes?
How quickly would they have 10 independent authorities testing 10 different M6 cars, full of gas, in uphill courses, with overweight drivers, just to illustrate how absurd Mercedes’ claims are?
How quickly would Mercedes issue a retraction?
And, to the petrolheads among us: wouldn’t such a stunt look like Mercedes is really, really afraid of the M6? And don’t we all know better?
More to the point – do you ever see Mercedes pulling such a stunt?
Ah, but you can get away with stuff like that in the storage industry!
Unfortunately, the storage industry is rife with vendors claiming all kinds of stuff about each other. Some of it is or was true, much of it is blown all out of proportion, and some is blatant fabrication.
For instance, XIV breaking if you pull 2 disks out as I state in a previous post, it’s possible if the right 2 drives fail within a few minutes of each other. I think it’s unacceptable, even though it’s highly unlikely to happen in real life. But I’ve seen sales campaigns against the XIV use this as the mantra, to the point that the fallacy is finally stated: “ANY 2 drive failure will bring down the system”.
Obviously this is not true and IBM can demonstrate how untrue that is. Still, it may slow down the IBM campaign.
Other fallacies are far more complicated to prove wrong, unfortunately.
An example: Pillar Data has an asinine yet highly detailed report by Demartek showing NetApp and EMC arrays having significantly lower rebuild speeds than Pillar (as if that’s the most important piece of data management, but anyway, rebuild speed hasn’t helped Pillar sales much, even if it’s true).
To anyone that knows how to configure NetApp and EMC, they’d see that the Pillar box was correctly configured, whereas the others intentionally made to look 4x worse (in the case of NetApp, they literally went against not just best practices but blatantly against system defaults in order to make it slower). However, some CIOs might read this and give credence to it, since they don’t know the details and don’t read past the first graph.
For EMC and NetApp to dispute this, they have to go to the trouble of configuring, properly, a similar system, and running similar tests, then writing a detailed and coherent response. It’s like wounding the enemy soldier instead of killing them, their squadmates have to help them out, wasting manpower. I get it – it’s effective in war. But is it legal in the business world?
Last but not least: EMC and HP, at the very least, have anti-NetApp reports, blogs, PPTs etc. that literally look just like the absurd Mercedes/BMW example above, sometimes worse. Some of it was true a long time ago (the famous FUD “2x + snap delta” space requirement for LUNs is really “1x + snap delta” and has been for years), some of it is pure fabrication (“it slows down to 5% of its original speed if you fill it up!”). See here for a good explanation.
Of course, again that’s like wounding the enemy soldiers: NetApp engineers have to go and defend their honor, show all kinds of reports, customer examples, etc etc. Even so, at some point many CIOs will just say “I trust EMC/HP, I’ve been buying their stuff forever, I’ll just keep buying it, it works”. The FUD is enough to make many people that were just about to consider something else, go running back to mama HP.
Should NetApp sue? I’ve seen some of the FUD examples and literally they are not just a bit wrong but magnificently, spectacularly, outrageously wrong. Is that slander? Tortuous interference? Simply a mistake? I’m sure some lawyer, somewhere, knows the answer. Maybe that lawyer needs to talk to some engineers and marketing people.
Let’s flip the tables:
If NetApp went ahead and simply claimed an EMC CX4-960 can only really hold 450TB, what would EMC do?
I can only imagine the insanity that would ensue.
I’ll finish with something simple from the customer standpoint:
NetApp sold 1 Exabyte of enterprise storage last year, if it was as bad as the other (obviously worried) vendors are saying, does that mean all those customers buying it by the truckload and getting all those efficiencies and performance are stupid and wasted their money?