Posts Tagged ‘storage strategy’

Erik Eyberg Talks IBM Storage Strategy (Repost with corrections)

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

IBM_Edge_Upcoming_ImageThis is a repost of a previously posted interview with Erik Eyeberg, made as a correction to the previous blog that mislabeled Erik as Erik and Eyberg as Eyeberg.  He noted the discrepancy in an email on Friday and was so darned kind about it, my sense of guilt about my oversight was raised to an intolerable level.  We have corrected the incorrect reference both here and in the video clips below and regret the error.

The video interview was shot at Edge 2015.  This was my fourth IBM Edge event, if memory serves, and my third opportunity to get together with Mr. Eyberg, who came over to IBM with the acquisition of his former employer, Texas Memory Systems, and who has in a comparatively short period of time been promoted through the ranks. He has ditched the nerd glasses and hair cut he sported when I first met him for a more Benedict Cumberbatch look (well, that is what my daughters said when we were editing his video interview!), but he is still geek through and through.

And now, his business cards identify him as the Manager of World Wide Enterprise Storage Strategy and Business Development: a hefty title for a truly smart guy who has stepped almost effortlessly into his new and expanded role. It was a great pleasure to chat with him about IBM’s current technology and future directions. Here is part 1 of our interview, in which Eyberg sets the context, then ramps up a discussion of flash storage technology and the fit it is finding within business enterprises.

But wait, there’s more. We venture away from the evangelism of flash technology to discuss in Part 2 of the interview the lingering concerns that many folks (including me) have regarding the oversell of flash as a panacea and the problems created by memory wear and uneven performance. Erik’s point of view is interesting…

Eyberg makes a coherent case for IBM’s diversification in terms of storage offerings between “boxed” (conventional arrays) and “un-boxed” (software-defined storage) offerings. I liked his sensible discussion of unified management and REST near the end of the clip. It is good to know that IBM is still pursuing RESTful management tools for its kit. Look for RESTful management of the DS8000 series array with the release of version 7.5 of the array’s firmware.

On to the final part. Here is where Erik finishes his thoughts on RESTful management and what it will take for everything to be REST enabled for unified management (he seems dubious that this will happen). Then, he and I talk about tape technology, then about the future of storage from IBM’s perspective. Fascinating stuff.

Once again, special thanks to Erik Eyberg for agreeing to this interview (and to Lizbeth Ramirez Letechipia and company for helping me to round up Erik for this interview and for helping to get the clip approved by IBM).

For the record, this is one of several interviews I conducted at IBM Edge in exchange for room, board, transport, and free attendance at the event. I was also compensated for delivering five sessions at Tech Ed as part of the show.sessions at Tech Ed as part of the show.

Celerra SAN?

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I got a call from an integrator late yesterday who wanted some input on EMC Celerra.  I gave him what little I know then asked a bit more about the customer requirements he was seeking to fill.

He said the customer, a healthcare provider, was making its first foray into a “SAN” — or what goes by that name in the storage marketecture of today.  The shop had bought a blade system to process some critical data — about 8TB or so initially and expected to grow by leaps and bounds.  They wanted performance and scalability, and manageability was important too, given the smallish size of their IT shop.  HP was the blade provider, but the reseller who sold it to them (not my guy) screwed the pooch on his pricing for a complimentary HP storage solution.  (No surprise.)  Now, EMC was pushing its Celerra solution to the customer via yet another reseller, and the customer was about ready to ink the deal — based on the brand familiarity of EMC, rather than its product capabilities.

The customer has not received reliable performance data on Celerra — mainly because there isn’t much out there.  EMC doesn’t stand for public testing of its kits.

The customer is being told that a Celerra is a SAN.  I always thought of it as a NAS head slapped on top of a Clariion rig that might offer some FC and some SATA drives inside.  Oh, and a boatload of software features that I may or may not need. 

By the way, the EMC NAS products we have tested in the past were pigs, the SMB-oriented crap sold through Dell, but I have had some more positive experiences with Clariion.

The customer is being told that Celerra scales performance and capacity well.  Damned if I know whether this claim is true. 

The customer is being told that Celerra holds its value over time.  Reference was made to NetApp’s tendency to end-of-life its gear after 18 months, while EMC supposedly takes much greater care of its customer’s investments.  I haven’t made the comparison and I wonder if anyone else has.

Finally, the customer is being told that EMC is a much more trustworthy company from the standpoint of its ability to execute over time than is, say, Xiotech, which my friend in the reseller world wants to suggest as an alternative.  In fact, EMC apparently has a whole playbook it uses when Xiotech is competing for “their” business and “their” customer prospect, and they are giving it both barrells to this customer. 

Note that I am not singling out EMC in this regard:  I have seen similar playbooks in just about every storage vendor I have visited.  Unfortunately, sifting the truth from the bullshit consumes more of a consumer’s time than does making an intelligent and thoughtful comparison between products with respect to their fit with specific application and business requirements.

I agreed to chat further with this customer about the considerations that need to be foremost in his strategy for selecting and deploying storage.  In Xiotech’s favor, he can start small and buy storage in a way that captures the underlying falling cost of disk.  Given Xiotech’s web services-based management paradigm and its growing ecosystem of web services-enabled third party software vendors, including great companies like DataCore, he can custom build readily managed infrastructure while containing costs.  Xiotech’s performance numbers have been validated and re-validated and are the best in the business, though I would encourage everyone to try it with their workload before committing to any vendor’s gear.  Finally, I would ask the fellow to consider the broader context of data management.  As a healthcare services company, HIPAA probably applies, which means that he will need a disaster recovery and an archive capability sooner rather than later.  I would prefer to have a flexible model for implementing these services, again controlled via web services, rather than a lock-in model that will go hand in hand with EMC’s inevitable pressure to buy Centera and other hardware/software stovepipes for data protection.

I will report on how effective the truth can be against EMC marketing.  Heck, I would love to test both solutions under his workload in our labs and report the results here, if he will let me.  Unfortunately, having been down that path before, EMC puts a hard stop on public disclosure of the performance of its gear in the warranty and maintenance agreement.  The fellow needs to understand that this is a nifty way that vendors (not just EMC) use to make sure that storage decisions can never be made in a transparent or scientific way.

That alone makes me recommend Xiotech over EMC in this case.  It is irritating to me that he may go with the latter because of FUD they are laying on him about the “questionable future” of “minor or niche players in the storage market like Xiotech” — a quote from the bullshit that the EMC reseller is laying out about his competitor.  When I compare sales acceleration numbers at Xiotech to the low growth numbers from EMC, I think that everyone needs to start reconsidering who will be here in ten years and who won’t.

Returning to my original question:  is Celerra a SAN, even in the beaten-down idiotic definition of what a SAN is today?  Comments welcome.