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Moshe Yanai: critic accused of 'sour grapes'

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A few months ago Pete Gerr, a senior Hitachi Data Systems exec, launched an astonishing attack on the storage guru Moshe Yanai.

He accused Yanai, the inventor of EMC's Symmetrix platform of being "greedy, arrogant and blinded by his egotism" during his time at EMC.

I reported Gerr's comments at the time. So in the interest of balance I am now publishing a very different opinion of Yanai, courtesy of a former colleague of his at IBM. He accuses Gerr of "sour grapes".

Moshe Yanai was the inventor of the XIV storage array technology and founder of the XIV company which he sold to IBM in August, 2008. Prior to that he was the celebrated inventor of the Symmetrix high-end storage array technology which was the mainstay of EMC's success for many years.

The ex-IBMer said the Israeli engineer was energetic in supporting his product, a trait that people may have interpreted as egotistical or arrogant when it was really not. He said Yanai was certainly proud of his XIV product and passionate about it "and well he should be as it is truly game-changing."

Our correspondent says: "He had a product that could technically displace the entire IBM disk portfolio if they wanted to use it in that manner... In normal IBM fashion, XIV is treated like a secondary product, just like the DS3000, DS4000, DS5000 and other storage products that were not internally developed at IBM. IBM is treating XIV as a secondary product even though it is selling a significant amount of it and still developing and adding new features to the product. I could understand if Moshe would be frustrated with that; I certainly would if it were my product."

The sidelining of XIV was due to IBM's "not invented here" syndrome where products acquired or outsourced never get the support of in-house IBM developed product, according to our correspondent, who says this point is not intended to be a criticism of IBM storage products - "as I believe they are some of the best in the industry."

Yanai was approachable and: "was happy to talk with me about XIV and explain the engineering behind it. … His demeanour...didn't appear to be anything close to what Pete Gerr described."

As for greed: "Moshe is already independently wealthy, he doesn't need the money or have to be greedy, he already has it, so I'm not sure where Pete Gerr got that idea from. My comment is not reflective of my opinion of Pete Gerr, as I have not met him, only that my experience with Moshe is nothing like what he posted."

Our correspondent says that Moshe Yanai has been directly involved with the invention of some hugely significant storage technologies: "What has Pete Gerr invented lately?" ®

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