I nearly fell out of my chair
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I nearly fell out of my chair when I read EMC's press release[EMC a Leader in Virtual Tape Libraries Writes Top Independent Research Firm], as pointed to by fellow EMC blogger Chuck Hollis in his post[How The EMC Disk Library Came To Be]. The EMC Disk Library(EDL) was formerly known as the EMC CLARiiON Disk Library, but was renamed somewhere along the way to drop the CLARiiON brand. Given CLARiiON's poor reputation in the marketplace, this was probablya smart move.
First, an excerpt from the EMC Press Release:
EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) today announced it has been positioned as a leader in the Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Open Systems Virtual Tape Library (VTL), Q1 2008 by Forrester Research, Inc. (January 31, 2008), an independent market and technology research firm. EMC achieved a position as a leader in the Forrester Wave report on virtual tape libraries based on the largest installed base of the EMC® Disk Library family of systems, its broad ecosystem interoperability. Virtual tape libraries emulate tape drives and work in conjunction with existing backup software applications, enabling fast backup and restoration of data by using high-capacity, low-cost disk drives.
While the press release implies that "EDL equals VTL", Chuck tries to explain they are in fact very different. Here is an excerpt from his blog post:
Virtual Tape Libraries vs. Disk Libraries
For those new to the blogosphere, there is a difference between "Press Releases" as formalcorporate communications versus "Blog Posts" which are informal opinions of the individual blogger, whichmay or may not match exactly the views of their respective employer.As we've learned many times before, one should not treat termslike "first" or "leader" in corporate press releases literally! Let's explore each.
Was EDL the first "open systems" Virtual Tape Library?
This is implied by the Forrester report. Chuck mentions the "VTLs that had came before it" in his blog, and many people are aware that IBM and StorageTek had introduced mainframe-attached VTLs in the 1990s. But what about VTL for "open systems"?
(Hold aside for the moment that IBM System zmainframe is an open system itself, with z/OS certified as a bona fide UNIX operating system by the [the Open Group] standards body. Most analysts and research firms usually refer only to the non-mainframe versions of UNIX and Windows. Alternative definitions for "open systems" can be foundin [Web definitions or Wikipedia]. I will assume Forrester meantnon-mainframe servers.)IBM announced AIX non-mainframe attachment via SCSI connectivity to the IBM 3494 Virtual Tape Server (VTS) on Feb 16, 1999, with general availability in May 28, 1999. That's nearly FIVE YEARS before the April 2004 introduction of EDL. IBM VTS support for Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows came shortly thereafter in November 2000, and support for HP-UX a bit later in June 2001. One of my 17 patents is for the software inside the IBM 3494 VTS, so like Chuck, I can takesome pride in the success of a successful product.
(I don't remember if StorageTek, which was subsequently acquired by Sun, had ever supported non-mainframe operating systems with their Virtual Storage Manager[VSM] offering, but if they did, I am sure it was also before EMC.)
Last week, another EMC blogger, BarryB (aka [the Storage Anarchist]),took me to task in comments on my post [IBM now supports 1TB SATA drives]. He felt that IBM should not claim support, given that the software inside the IBM System Storage N series is developed by NetApp. He compared this to the situation of HP and Sun re-badging the HDS USP-V disk system. If someone else wrote the software, BarryB opines, IBM should not claim credit for it. I tried to explain how IBM provides added value and has full-time employees dedicated to N series development and support, butdoubt I have changed his mind.
Why do I bring that up? Because the EMC Disk Library runs OEM software from FalconStor. Basically EMC is assembling a hardware/software solution with components provided from OEM suppliers. Hmmm? Sound familiar? Who is calling the kettle black?
If there is a clear winner here, it is FalconStor itself.Perhaps one of the worst kept industry secrets is that FalconStor software is also used in VTL offerings from Sun, Copan, and IBM, the latter embodied as the [IBM TS7520 Virtualization Engine] offering. If you like the concept of an EDL,but prefer instead one-stop shopping from an "information infrastructure" vendor, IBM can offer the TS7520 along with servers, software and services for a complete end-to-end solution.
Can EMC claim to be "a leader" in Virtual Tape Libraries?
The timing of all this couldn't have been better. IDC analyst firm just came out with their latest 3Q07 "Tape Tracker" analysis report of the tape industry.Here's an excerpt from [Report: IBM Number One in Worldwide Branded Tape Revenue]:
Let's take a look at the numbers. IBM has sold over 5,400 virtual tape libraries. Sun/STK has sold over 4,000 virtual tape libraries. Both are drastically more than the 1,100 mentioned in Chuck's post. Does IDC recognize EMC in third place? No, EMC chooses instead to declare EDL as disk arrays (probably toprop up their IDC "Disk Tracker" numbers), so they don't even earn an honorable mention under the virtual tape librarycategory. This of course includes the number of mainframe-attached models from IBM and Sun/STK. So, if EMC did call these tape systems instead, they might showup in third place, and as such EMC could claim to be "a leader" in much the same way an athlete can claim to be an "Olympic medalist" winning the bronze for third place. (If you limit thecount to just the FalconStor-based models from IBM, EMC, Sun and Copan, then EMC moves up to first or second, but then press release titles like "EMC a Leader in FalconStor-based non-mainframe Virtual Tape Libraries" can get too confusing.)
Chuck, if you are reading this, I feel you have every right to celebrate your involvement with the EDL. Despite having common software and hardware components, both IBM and EMC can rightfully declare their own unique value-add through their respective VTL offerings. Like the IBM N series, the EMC Disk Library is not diminished by the fact the software was written by someone else. BarryB might disagree.
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