Et tu, Brute? EMC offering capacity guarantees? The sky is falling! Will Chuck resign?

It came to my attention that EMC is offering a 20% efficiency guarantee vs the competition (they seem to be focusing on NetApp as usual but that’s besides the point in this post). See here.

Now, I won’t go ahead and attack their guarantee. Good luck with that, more power to you etc etc. They need all the competitive edge they can get.

No, what I’ll do is expose yet more EMC messaging inconsistency. If you’ve been following the posts in my site you’ll notice that I have absolutely nothing against EMC products – but I do have issues with how they’re sold and marketed and what they’ll say about the competition.

First and foremost: most major storage players, with the notable exception of EMC, have been offering some kind of efficiency guarantee. Sure, you needed to read the fine print to see if your specific use case would be covered (like with every binding document), but at least the guarantees were there. NetApp was first with our 50% efficiency guarantee, then came others (HDS and 3Par are just some that come to mind). We even offer a 35% guarantee if we virtualize EMC arrays πŸ™‚

We all have different ways of getting the efficiency. NetApp has a combo of deduplication, thin provisioning, snapshots, highly efficient RAID and thin cloning, for instance. Others have a subset (3Par has their really good thin provisioning, for example). Regardless, we all tried to offer some measure of extra efficiency in these hard economic times.

And it’s not just marketing: I have multiple customers that, especially on virtualized environments, save at least 70% (that’s a real 70%, not 70% because we switched them from RAID10 to RAID-DP – literally, a 10TB data set is occupying 3TB). And for deployments like VDI, the savings are in the extreme range.

EMC’s stance was to, at a minimum, ridicule said guarantees. The inimitable Barry Burke (the storage anarchist) had this pretty funny post.

Chuck Hollis has been far more polemic about this – the worst was when he said he’d quit if EMC tried to do something similar (see here in the comments). BTW Γ’ we are all waiting for that resignation πŸ™‚ (on a more serious note, Chuck, if you don’t resign because of this, at least refrain from promising next time).

He also called other guarantees “shenanigans” here. I guess he’s really against the idea of guarantees.

But now it’s all good you see, EMC is offering a blanket 20% efficiency guarantee versus the competition! I.e. they will be able to provide 20% more actual usable storage or else they’ll give you free drives to cover the difference. You see, this guarantee is real, not like what all the other companies offer πŸ™‚

Kidding aside, methinks they’re missing the point – this (to go back to my favorite car analogies) is like saying: :Both our car and your car have a 3-liter engine, but yours has twin turbos and a racing intercooler and 3 times the horsepower but we won’t take any of that into account, we will strictly examine whether you indeed have a 3-liter engine, and we’ll bore ours out to make it 3.6 liters for free”. Alrighty then. I’ll keep my turbos. But how will they deal with an existing NetApp customer that’s getting something like 3x efficiency already? Fulfilling the guarantee terms could get mighty expensive.

If a NetApp customer is getting 3x the usable storage due to deduplication and other means, will EMC come up with the difference or will they just make sure they offer 20% more raw storage?

To the customer, all that matters is how much effective storage they’re able to use, not how much raw storage is in the box.

But, still, this is not what this post is about.

Throughout the years, NetApp and other vendors have offered true innovation on different fronts. Each time that happens, EMC (that also innovates – through acquisition mostly – but likes to act as if nobody else does) employs their usual “minimize and divert” technique. Either they will trivialize the innovation (“who’d want to do that?”) or they will proclaim it false, then divert attention to something they already do (or will do in a few years).

This is even the case for technologies EMC eventually acquired, like Data Domain. Before EMC acquired Data Domain, they disparaged the product, claimed it was the worst kind of device you’d ever want in your datacenter, then tried to sell you the execrable DL3D (AKA Quantum DXi (don’t get me started, the first release was an utter mess).

We all know what happened to that story eventually: at the moment, EMC is offering to swap out existing DL3Ds for free in many cases, and put Data Domain in their place since it’s infinitely better. But wait, weren’t they saying how terrible Data Domain was compared to DL3D?

Some will say this is fine since they’re just trying to compete, and “all is fair”. Personally, if I were approached by sales teams with those about-face tactics, I’d be annoyed.

So, without further ado, I present you with a slide a colleague created. Some of the timing may be a bit off, but the gist should be fairly clearÒ€¦ πŸ™‚

I could have added a few more lines (Flash Cache, for instance) but it would have made for too busy a slide.

EDIT: I’ll add something I posted as a comment on someone else’s blog that I think is germane.

Since, to provide apples-to-apples protection, EMC HAS to be configured with RAID6, where are the public benchmarks showing EMC RAID6? As you well know, ALL NetApp benchmarks (SPEC, SPC) are with RAID-DP. Any EMC benchmarks around are with RAID10.

Maybe another guarantee is needed:

Provide no worse protection, functionality, space and performance than X competitor.

Otherwise, you’re only tackling a relatively unimportant part of the big picture.


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3 Replies to “Et tu, Brute? EMC offering capacity guarantees? The sky is falling! Will Chuck resign?”

  1. Nicely done.

    At least there will be a reason now for equipment to magically appear on a customer’s loading dock. They can just shrug their shoulders and say “maybe its because of that guarantee?”

  2. Barry Burke is the equivalent of Baghdad Bob. His FUD ability is unsurpassed from all i’ve read over the years. With each new storage system that comes out, he rushes to attempt to discredit or tear it down. Don’t think this doesn’t go unnoticed by those of us who are responsible in recommending a storage platform to our customers or management teams. It’s an ugly side of EMC that I personally do not like and it prevents me from recommending their products.

    I’d say there is a 75% chance he will comment on this post himself within the next day.

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