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Is EMC really jealous of these nubile storage upstarts?

Something's rattled the tech giant's data centre cage

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Storagebod It's kinda heartwarming to see an EMC veep publicly accuse a storage journo of misquoting him on XtremIO - but only because it feels like the spats of days gone by are back.

It doesn't matter if it's about network-attached storage or flash; switch around the jargon and you’ll probably find the same blog entries work and the same arguments made.

The world of storage seems to be more and more cult-like in nature which leads to these vigorous debates and some rather amusing tantrums. It reminds one of arguments over the differences between Linux distributions as opposed to all-out flamewars comparing whole operating systems.

Two Linux users could argue the toss between Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu until they are blue in the face, yet ultimately they're both using Linux and are aware of its idiosyncrasies. But they will turn against you if you suggest deploying Windows.

Take that thought and consider this: in the server world, it is a large investment in time and money to move from one operating system to a completely different one; it is certainly disruptive.

Yet in the storage world, we can change vendors with some ease; we understand migrating workloads in a non-disruptive manner. It would be fairly unusual to find a storage manager who can’t describe at least in theory how to do this. This leads too many vendors feeling a little nervous and tense; customers do have a lot more power and choice in this space.

It also means there is space in the market for newcomers to come in and disrupt. It is probably ironic that EMC owns the company and technology that actually allows its core storage products to be most disrupted. VMware allowed NetApp to get a massive foothold in some of EMC’s backyard and it seems that it may also allow some of the flash vendors to get a foothold too.

It used to be fairly common to find a fairly homogeneous storage environment with EMC supplying a whole data centre; in talking to my peers in the industry, this is now less common. Multiple storage vendors are becoming the norm despite the management headaches that this does bring at times. Many of the headaches are overstated, mind you, and as more people come to realise this, this will put yet further pressure on the likes of EMC.

I wonder if this is why EMC top brass are particularly sensitive about the whole subject? They can’t out do the myriad of small storage startups in terms of innovation and indeed they enable many of them; this will mean that they will be slower to market and will rely on their engineering being very solid and spot-on.

It all sounds strangely familiar. ®

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