Say nay to the naysayers – serverside storage for believers

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DISCLAIMER: I am currently working on a Marketing project for ScaleComputing, one of the players in the HyperConverged platform market.

The heat is on! That’s the least you can say about datacenter marketexture. There are two big trends going on in the datacenter design: 

  • on the logical side we are drastically changing from a client-server age to cloud-computing age (or however we are going to call this era in 10 years time).
  • on the physical side we are drastically changing from a silo-design to a node-based design. this goes hand in hand with the ‘software-defined’ trend
Most of you know that the hairs on my back go straight up when I see FUD & Payola (FUD spread through 3rd parties) as they are an insult to the intelligence of their readers. Therefor I liked Chuck Hollis’s article this week (and that doesn’t happen very often) where he countered a payola piece of StorageSwitzerland that was actually an ad from Gridstore.

Times are a changing!

The best line in Chuck’s article is “… I tend to measure the impact of a new product by the visceral nature of the competitive reaction it evokes …”. And he is dead-on. The amount of blogposts of people trying to dismiss VSAN is huge. So why is this happening now and not that much when Nutanix doubled their sales yet again? It’s all about market validation. VSAN is a validation of a whole market shift to server-side storage by an A-brand. And not just by virtualising a storage controller (like VSA-models) but on top of that integrating the administrative experience as built-in.

Server-side storage, serversan, hyperconverged architectures, … what’s in a name. It’s a fact and VMware has acknowledged that it is an important part going forward. It’s not new, it’s just ready to be accepted by the customers. That is what I did with ScaleComputing in the last two weeks: I visited their customers and had an unscripted interview about their experiences. Here are two things that came back every single interview:

  • a flexible/agile and well spread aquisition of datacenter infrastructure
  • time spend on infrastructure management decreased tremendously, opening a lot more time for management of end-user facing solutions

This is not me nor marketing. These are customers that have chosen the path of a node-based datacenter. Some of their customers have already expanded their clusters when necessary and negate all the FUD I have read by the competition or by their paid analysts. I am absolutely certain you will hear the exact same reasons at Nutanix or SimpliVity customers and in the near future of VSAN customers. 

Marketing, get your act together!

It’s not because there is an architectural change going on for parts of the market that your product is dead. There are a lot of architectures where node based licensing for example (VSAN) makes no sense from a cost-analysis perspective. There is a very big size of the market where the organisation is not ready to let go of silo-based architectures simply for ITIL or other compliancy models that are built in their workforces. There are dozens of reasons why your product makes sense.

Play it straight! HONEST MARKETING is the only way forward. You are insulting the intelligence of the audience by spreading FUD. More and more smart people will start calling you out. If what you are going to say about a competitor is not positive, shut-the-F-up! You think you need to ‘educate the audience’? NO. I have been reached out by more than one vendor to write “an answer to VSAN’ or ‘the challenges of using technology X’ over theirs. 

Instead focus on the positive message of your product and the market it serves. Listen to your customers that are buying your product and why they do that. Enforce that message and you are more likely to get more sales than talking to customers that are looking in the other direction anyhow.

My 0.02

Now you’d say I am only writing this because I am hired by ScaleComputing to spread their message. If so you missed all the times I have cheered for Nutanix and SimpliVity. You have missed the times where I pushed HP & DELL to sell similar technologies to their customers (who sometimes don’t have access to startup technology). You have missed the times where I cheered for Equallogic per node scalability and you probably haven’t seen my HP Hyperconverged Architecture designs in 2011 where I loaded Lefthand VSAs in a C3000 cluster with storage blades attached to the compute blades.

UPDATE april 14: Duncan is also sick of the FUD – read his rant here. It’s time to play nice guys and gals!

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