The Taneja Syndrome
Perusing the January issue of InfoStor, for whom I will shortly be columnizing (maybe not, after this post), I came across a piece by Christine Taylor of Taneja Group entitled "Software is the Key to 'Green' Storage." I was intrigued by the title because, as regular readers of this blog know, I agree wholeheartedly that data hygiene, archive and SRM -- judiciously applied -- could buy back as much as 70 percent of space on every spindle you currently deploy and make a real dent in your rate of new capacity deployment.
I was hoping against hope that the smart folk at Taneja Group would have reached this same conclusion.
Unfortunately, as I read the piece I was beset by what was once called "Fatal Hilarity" (well, near fatal in this case, I guess).
Fatal Hilarity is real and has claimed the lives of many prominent folks in history and probably a lot of storage administrators as well. According to Wikipedia, which we all know to be a completely factual source of empirical wisdom,
Fatal hilarity is death as a result of laughter. The phrase was first recorded in 1596. Death is usually brought about by asphyxiation from which the thoracic diaphragm can't expand or contract fully thus causing the inability to breathe correctly or heart failure/heart attack/cardiac arrest due to constant straining on the heart, ultimately preventing blood flow.
In modern times
- According to some traditions, the mythological Greek prophet Calchas died of laughter when the day that was to be his death day arrived and the prediction didn't seem to materialise.
- In the third century B.C. the Greek stoic philosopher Chrysippus died of laughter after giving his ass wine, then seeing it attempt to feed on figs.
- Martin I of Aragon died from a lethal combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughing in 1410.
- Pietro Aretino "is said to have died of suffocation from laughing too much."
- It is cited that the Burmese king Nanda Bayin, in 1599 "laughed to death when informed, by a visiting Italian merchant, that Venice was a free state without a king."
- In 1660, the Scottish aristocrat, polymath and first translator of Rabelais into English, Thomas Urquhart, is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.
- The phenomenon is also recorded in the book Crazy History where a Celtic soothsayer was able to predict the hour of his demise. As with the death of Calchas, when the time arrived and the soothsayer found himself still alive, he purportedly laughed hysterically, eventually killing himself through either heart attack or asphyxiation.
- On 24 March 1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King's Lynn, England, died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies, featuring a Scotsman in a kilt battling a vicious black pudding with his bagpipes. After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter Mitchell finally slumped on the sofa and expired from heart failure. His widow later sent the Goodies a letter thanking them for making Mitchell's final moments so pleasant.
- In 1989 a Danish audiologist, Ole Bentzen, died watching A Fish Called Wanda. His heart was estimated to have beat at between 250 and 500 beats per minute, before he succumbed to cardiac arrest.
- In 2003 Damnoen Saen-um, a Thai ice cream salesman, is reported to have died while laughing in his sleep at the age of 52. His wife tried to wake him up but couldn't, and he stopped breathing after two minutes of continuous laughter. It is believed that he died either of heart failure or asphyxiation.
Monty Python did a sketch that trivialized this serious threat in which the funniest joke ever invented (by a fellow named Ernest Scribbler) resulted in the author's death, his mother's death, then was turned over to the British military who translated it into German and used it effectively as a secret weapon against the Nazis in Europe. You can see the sketch
here, but be careful. I do not want to be responsible for your demise.
That should have also been on Taylor's mind when she wrote the piece in InfoStor. Basically, Taneja's Ernest Scribbler took the party line(s) from a number of storage vendors (paying clients?) regarding green storage -- de-duplicate, compress, virtualize and provision thinly -- and turned them into a fluff piece full of what she called "best practices" -- concluding that these "innovative software technologies will have an imediate impact on the bottom line."
I laughed til I cried.
What these technologies are, at best, are mechanisms to delay and distract the storage admin from getting serious about data management. They may defer the rate of capacity growth (though I doubt it) for a brief while, but the problem of the storage junk drawer persists and only becomes worse.
Why not tell people to start addressing the root cause of capacity sprawl: lack of hardware management and lack of data management? I know the reason, of course: such talk would make the Taneja Group unpopular with its paying vendor clients and probably with storage admins, as well. Business is business.
But, at least, the analysts could spare us the risk of fatal hilarity, which I am now calling The Taneja Syndrome.