Moderator: Peter Burris
Analyst: David Vellante
During the week of 12 Nov. EMC invited the analyst community into its cloister to discuss its perspectives on direction, goals and tactics for trying to bring significant new innovation to the way users deploy and manage information infrastructure. EMC suggests this is a $60B opportunity vendors that will have significant benefits for customers. It expects these benefits to take four forms:
- Improved technologies for storing data, including better price points and higher availability;
- New ways to leverage information and the resources necessary to sustain that information, including better resource management and virtualization technologies;
- New approaches to optimizing investments in information infrastructure including advances in intelligent information management and enterprise content management; and,
- New types of services and capabilities for better protecting information at the archive security level.
Overall EMC's story came across as quite credible and suggests that the company has taken concerns regarding its overall vision to heart. While much work remains in defining what information infrastructure is, what it means and how users will adopt it, nonetheless a few intermediate term issues, where users should expect tension in information management activities, were raised by the discussions. The three most obvious are consumerization, energy efficiency and virtualization. The last two are relatively well understood, and it is interesting that EMC pushed consumerization as hard as it did.
Specifically, EMC says 75% of data is created by individuals and today stored locally, but over time will be managed centrally. EMC plans to bring services to individuals and enterprises supporting this reality with centralized Storage-as-a-Service solutions over the Internet for backing up and protecting that data. Whether EMC truly delivers on this promise in the context of the broader Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environment remains to be seen, but it is interesting that the buzz around SaaS, which ebbs and flows every few years, has found its way into the storage domain with EMC as a major proponent.
In energy efficiency EMC promised spin down on all arrays eventually. But it did not provide any time frames or information on the kinds of algorithms it would use to ensure minimal impact on application performance. Given that spinning up a disk can take 20 seconds, applications will need to be aware of any spin down services on some level.
In the virtualization area, EMC is pushing both overall virtualization through VMware and file virtualization, based on the theory that SAN virtualization is better handled in the network. It introduced a new term – virtual provisioning – which is its spin on what thin provisioning ultimately will look like, and it expects to make this available in its products in 1Q08.
While each of these initiatives will involve significant change in how storage management and administration is envisioned, in the next few years we expect a greater rather than lesser dynamism in the marketplace as large numbers of sources of storage innovation appear, making the real test in innovation how companies like EMC sustain complex adoption by their users.
With that emphasis, we suggest four near term negotiation (4Q07-1Q08) approaches:
- Virtual (thin) provisioning will have significant bearing in capacity requirement in 1Q08. Users should include that in 4Q07 negotiations to get pricing that reflects this reality.
- Treat negotiations as a project to ensure that they cover the wide array of storage issues including application, capacity, and performance, so the right arrangement of capacity can be acquired.
- Continue to explore other sources of innovation. While we are encouraged by EMC's vision, that picture will be filled in over the next few years, and often in response to invention generated by startups and other sources in the marketplace.
- Explore new approaches to better leveraging overall software costs through tactics like in-box tiering where appropriate.
Action Item: EMC is demonstrating an important commitment to storage invention by spending $1.5B a year on storage related R&D and $2B a year on storage related acquisitions. Customers can also be encouraged that EMC's leadership at a sales and service level will provide increasing facility for streamlining the adoption of the inventions generated by those investments. However, we remain convinced that storage will be a multi-source game for the next few years and consequently all sources should be explored, none left out, and customers should recognize that for the foreseeable future the responsibility for turning storage investment into business capabilities remains with users themselves.