FUD and The Invention of Lying

I watched “The Invention of Lying” movie the other day. Fairly entertaining, and it had an interesting concept:

Imagine a society where nobody can lie – the very concept of lying is alien and never even enters anyone’s mind. Obviously, tons of jokes can be made using that premise, and the movie is riddled with them – such as their fictional Pepsi ad: “Pepsi: when they’re out of Coke”

In the movie, a single man stumbles upon the concept of lying, and realizes he can do whatever he wishes since nobody else can tell he’s lying.

Obviously, in our society lying is quite prevalent – a large percentage of the population wouldn’t have jobs or, indeed, offspring without lying.

I thought – what if, just for fun, we applied “The Invention of Lying” movie concept to IT sales? (I guess this is another take on comparing vendors to cars or wines and whatnot). I’m going for an alphabetical, non-comprehensive list (and added a few non-storage entries). I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out if this is more accurate from the standpoint of a rep that cannot lie, or vice versa:

  • 3Par: Our best asset is Marc Farley, his highly entertaining blog is what sells our gear. Our gear is pretty fast, though the software not as good as others’. Unsure how we are still in business. Also unsure why nobody has bought us yet. We do have a handful of very large, loyal customers.
  • Apple: Our stuff is prettier but inside it’s all the same, actually often slower than others. Oh, and it’s a lot more expensive. But the software is cool (when you can find it). You’ll probably need to run Windows in a VM anyway to get the full functionality. Did we mention our stuff is prettier?
  • Bluearc: We have limited-functionality NAS with good sequential and random read speeds but not so much for random writes. Oh, and no application integration. But it’s good for certain workloads. Why is nobody acquiring us?
  • Compellent: Data Progression is the coolest thing we do, and we’ll probably go under now that the big vendors can do it. Oh, and it never did much in the real world, especially for performance. Hopefully we’ll get acquired, but if our technology is that good, why did nobody acquire us yet? We’re extremely affordable!
  • Equallogic: We’ll give you free storage (the first hit is free) if/since you also buy Dell servers. We might even throw in a free laptop and a projector. And a mouse pad. Make sure you convert everything to iSCSI since that’s all we do. Oh, you wanted to know specifics about the storage? Well – it’s free! If you buy some servers. You really want to know about the storage? Well, it’s free if -What? You want to understand the failure math of RAID 50? It’s atrocious, but the box is free if…
  • EMC: We buy companies since innovating is kinda hard and time-consuming, so our solutions end up being a mish-mash of technologies. It all mostly works, though interoperability between platforms sucks. Regarding storage, you should really only buy Symmetrix since all our other stuff doesn’t even come close to that quality, we have the other boxes just to meet price points and plug portfolio holes. We trash competitors until we acquire them or until we build something good enough that’s similar. We also sell futures. Hard. We focus too much on NetApp.
  • HDS: We don’t know how to write software but our high-end gear hardware is pretty solid. The cheaper stuff is OK, severely lacks in functionality but we’ll just drop the price enough that you’ll buy it anyway. Capisce?
  • HP: Seems that buying companies works for EMC, we’ll do the same, let’s see what happens. We used to make the best calculators in the world. Oh, and our best array is actually made by HDS. Our servers are great! Please, also buy some printers, they’re pretty good.
  • IBM: We used to be some of the best in storage, now our only 2 products are SVC and DS8K (oops, and now XIV), everything else we resell after we put our faceplates on it. Our biggest sellers are products made by LSI and NetApp. Oh, and we internally compete with the XIV team we acquired. Our storage solutions don’t talk to one another since they’re all made by different people. But SVC can tie it all together! Well, some of it, anyway.
  • Intel: We are so big that even if AMD has better stuff, eventually we catch up. Just you wait. In the meantime, buy more Intel to keep us going. Resistance is futile.
  • Isilon: We are decent for bulk sequential-access NAS, just don’t do any kind of random workload on our gear.
  • LeftHand: If you want any reasonable storage efficiency plus resiliency you need to buy a bunch of boxes (5 or so), since each box is essentially an HP server with internal disks, and the whole server can die. Oh, and we only do iSCSI. So you better make sure you only do iSCSI.
  • NetApp: We probably have some of the worst marketing of all vendors, and often can’t clearly articulate what makes our systems better to C-level execs, focusing almost entirely on techies. We also have issues with making some acquisitions pan out. ONTAP 8 is taking us forever to release, and until then you won’t have very wide striping (update: GA’d 3/19/10). We complicate sales because our engineers are too technical and insist on explaining how the boxes work at a low level, frequently confusing customers, that seldom care about understanding Row-Diagonal Parity equations. Too much good information is tribal knowledge, including performance tuning and the gigantic customers we have. We focus too much on EMC.
  • Pillar: We cry ourselves to sleep because all we have is Larry Ellison and QoS. Maybe Larry will finally force Oracle to finally buy some of his^H^H^H our gear? I wonder how that will go down since Oracle is already using a superior technology and achieving great savings… but we do make a fairly fast box if you’re OK with limited functionality and RAID50.
  • Sun: We can sell you some LSI storage, but even that may be going away. You can also get the exact same storage from IBM that also resells LSI. How about a Thumper? We may also have some leftover HDS gear that we can give you real cheap.
  • Xiotech: Our value prop is extremely obscure and only understood well by about 5 engineers. Out of those 5 engineers, 2 understand the exact failure scenarios of our ISE architecture, and they can’t explain it to anyone else. We are pretty cheap though.
  • XIV: We believe in success through obfuscation. Our box can only do about 17K IOPS if the workload isn’t cache-friendly but we know how to cheat in benchmarks and make it seem faster (make sure your benchmark writes all zeros and/or fits in cache). The box also consumes more power and space than any other storage system. Our reps compete with IBM reps even though we are owned by IBM, since we only get paid on XIV sales, regardless of what the customer’s needs are. Oh, and under certain conditions, a 2-disk failure will bring down the entire system. But don’t you worry about that. BTW, the GUI is amazingly pretty.

Hope you had a chuckle reading some of this!

(minor edits – typo plus some on Twitter complained I was too gentle in the NetApp section 🙂 )


10 Replies to “FUD and The Invention of Lying”

  1. Oh, no my friend! You aren’t getting off that easy:

    NetApp: We stay awake nights hoping our customers and prospects don’t ask “so, how much usable storage will I have – I mean REALLY have after WAFL, snap reserves, DP and other bloated features?” We can only hope that nobody will put two and two together to figure out that we push primary data dedupe so hard because it will keep users from figuring out what the real space utilization is on our filers. Besides, it’s always nice to have yet another module to charge customers for after the initial sale. Oh, you wanted PERFORMANCE with that system? Buy our PAM – it keeps the WAFL from sticking to the platters.

  2. Thanks for adding some Compellent FUD, John! Everyone, keep it coming, this is meant to be fun.

    You have a valid point though: joking or not, if we did a great job of educating everyone on how space is consumed, you wouldn’t be writing this.

    I’ll have a (serious this time) post regarding understanding usable space on NetApp in the next week or so. It’s not that complex, and customers are sold true usable Base2 space anyway, FYI 🙂

    I can think of several other vendors that quote raw TB, before even RAID… 🙂


  3. XIV Engineering here. You are correct that XIV Gen2 will deliver about 18K IOPS if the workload evokes 0% cache hit ratio. A system built with small 15K RPM drives will do better. How often do you see 0% cache hit ratios at a customer site? Same story with how XIV handles zero block writes, power consumption, etc. These claims are trivial to refute during customer evals but they chew up customers’ time. Do you think these sales games increase or decrease your company’s credibility?

  4. Brian, I know Dimitris meant this as a humour and we shouldn’t take too seriously but you raise a serious point…XIV’s problem is if a customer does have a workload approaching 0% cache ratio, they have no answer to the problem! As cache unfriendliness of a work increases, XIV’s problems increase.

    So does claiming one-size fits all increase or decrease your company’s credibility? So does pretending that workloads which your platform struggles with don’t exist or at best anomalous aberrations increase or decrease your company’s credibility?

    Because as a customer, XIV’s positioning on these subjects has not enhanced your credibility one jot! If you actually got your sales-teams to address some of the concerns and especially the two-drive potential outage problem openly and honestly, instead of pretending that there were no problems, your credibility would have been advanced somewhat.

  5. D looking forward to that post and of course my comment was in jest and thanks for the laughs. I think it’s good that you posted this to lay out all the FUD as it keeps us all from taking ourselves too seriously!

  6. Dimitris: Thx for a great off-the-cough(pun) article, I love imbibing tech opinion with some humor for lubrication…

  7. I love how vendors claim their high availability arrays have ‘1PB of capacity’. fine print reads ‘1PB when configured with SATA disks’.. ‘which vendor X does not recommend’…

    but hey, wow factor wins business leaders, because really, 300tb of raid5 is just boring, the big spenders want PetaBytes these days

  8. I have both XIV and Equallogic and am pretty happy with both, though you should add that XIV’s iSCSI is crap, and frankly should not have been included with the box.

    I bought Equallogic before Dell bought them, so I didn’t get anything for free :(. Still 5 years later and the boxes have ran without a hiccup (two drive replacements which seems good for their age) and I’ve experienced 1 hour of downtime due to a firmware revision.

    As for Lefthand, I never did understand why no one understood that you were buying an HP server with disks in it.

    As for EMC, when it comes to FUD, no one can beat them. their fear was palpable when it came to XIV. I don’t know what Moshe did to Burke, but the guy was a one man jihad when the XIV started selling. And really, the clarion line is utter crap.

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