"In the future, all barriers to entry will go away and companies will be forced to form what I call 'confusopolies'.
Confusopoly: A group of companies with similar products who intentionally confuse customers instead of competing on price."
John Quarterman brought this up in his post [Confusopoly, Scott Adams, Prophet of Finance], and Joshua Gans commentson related predictions in his post [10 Years Ago for Scott Adams]. Here's anexcerpt from John Quarterman:
"...But look at the list of industries he identified as already being confusopolies:I wonder if the IT storage industry is not becoming its ownconfusopoly itself.Take for example a recent tiff between fellow bloggers [Chuck Hollis from EMC] and [Kostadis Roussos from NetApp].
Telephone companies of course since then have gone to great lengths to try to nuke net neutrality.
- Telephone service.
- Mortgage loans.
- Financial services.
And the other four are the source of the currrent economic meltdown, precisely because they sold products that customers couldn't understand. Worse, they didn't even understand them!"
Let's start with this little gem from Chuck:
"If you've spent any time in the storage biz, you probably realize that the server vendors sell more storage than they have any right to."
This is the old [Supermarkets-vs-Specialty Shops] debate I discussed over a year ago. The debate goes along the lines that some peopleprefer to buy their entire information infrastructure (servers, storage, software and services)from a single vendor, one-stop shopping, while others might prefer to buy their pieces ascomponents from different vendors that specialize in each technology. Because of this, Specialty shops tend to focus on other Specialty shops as their primary competitors (EMC vs. NetApp), whileSupermarkets tend to focus on other Supermarkets (IBM vs. HP).
The apparent contradiction is that Chuck feels the Supermarkets (IBM, HP, Sun and Dell) should not have any right to sell storage, in the same manner that butchers, bakers and candlestick makersdo not believe that Supermarkets should have any right to sell meat, bread or candles?If servers and storage are so different, how can self-proclaimed storage-only specialist EMC have the right to sell their non-storage offerings, from server virtualization (VMware) to cloud-computing services? With EMC's latest announcement of DW/BI centers, I think we can safely take EMC off the list of storage-only specialists. We will needto come up with a third category for those caught in limbo between being one-stop shopping Supermarkets like IBM and being a pure storage-only Specialists like NetApp. Perhaps EMC has become the IT equivalent of Wal-Mart's[Neighborhood Market].(No offense intended to my friends at Wal-Mart!)
Then Chuck continues with these statements:
"It is rarely is it the case that a server vendor can offer you a better storage product, or better service, or better functionality than what a storage specialist can do.
...Interestingly enough, Dell appears to do a sizable amount of storage business "off base" with EMC products -- outside the context of a specific server transaction."
This second contradiction relates to products that are manufactured by specialty shops, butsold through supermarket channels. Chuck would like to imply that the only storage products anyone should consider is gear made by specialty shops, whether you get it directly from them, or through Supermarket's with appropriate OEM agreements. Storage made by Supermarkets, either organicallydeveloped or through acquisitions, should not be considered? What happens when a Supermarket acquires a specialty shop? We've already seen how negative EMC has been against IBM's acquisitions of XIV and Diligent, which allowed a Supermarket like IBM to provide better products in both cases than what is available from any specialty shop. Kind of pokes a big hole in that argument!
But Dell also acquired EqualLogic, which Chuck admits might have a "fit in the marketplace".As it turns out, companies would rather buy EMCequipment from Dell sales people, than from EMC directly, and perhaps this is becauseDell, like IBM, sees the big picture. Dell, IBM and the rest of the IT Supermarkets understand theentire information infrastructure, not just the storage components of a data center. With HP and Sun selling HDS gear, and IBM selling NetApp gear, it becomes obvious that EMC needs Dell more than Dell needs EMC.
Chuck then pokes fun at NetApp in comparing the EMC NX4 to NetApp's FAS2020, comparable to IBM System Storage N series N3300. Here's an excerpt:
Like other Celerras, it does the full unified storage thing: iSCSI, NAS and "real deal" FC that isn't emulated.
The irony, of course, is that the NX4 does not actually use "real" Fibre Channel drives,but rather SAS and SATA drives. I guess Chuck's concern is that the NetApp, which doesuse "real" Fibre Channel drives, provides FC-attached LUNs to the host through its WAFL mapping,rather than through EMC's traditional RAID-rank mapping approach.How Chuck can imply that anything in the IT industry that is "emulated" is somehow seriouslyworse than "real", but then spend 40 percent of his posts devoted to the benefits of VMware,which offers "emulated" virtual machines, seems to be yet another contradiction.
The confusion continues in the battle over cloud-oriented storage.On Enterprise Storage Forum, Marty Foltyn has an article titled [The Cloud Offers Promise for Storage Users], cites a Gartner press release[Gartner Says Cloud Computing Will Be As Influential As E-business]. Here's an excerpt from Marty Foltyn's article:
"Cloud computing" has been ill-defined and over-hyped, yet storage vendors have been quick to trot out their own "cloud storage" offerings and end users are wondering whether there's significant cost savings in these services for them, particularly in tough economic times.
"Cloud-speak" can be downright confusing....
"Surprisingly, Gartner considers the amorphous nature of the term to be good news: 'The very confusion and contradiction that surrounds the term 'cloud computing' signifies its potential to change the status quo in the IT market,' the IT research firm said earlier this year."
Consistent with Scott Adams's original prediction, the barriers of entry have lowered for storage vendors as well.Rather than competing on function and price through valued relationships and trusted expertise, some vendors would rather confuse instead. EMC tries to paint the NX4 as being "just as good as" anNetApp or IBM N series for unified storage, and EMC tries to create new categories, like Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS), to give their me-too products the impression they are in a league of their own.All of this to discourage customers from making their own comparisons and doing their own research.
IBM doesn't play that way. If you want straight talk aboutIBM's products, contact your local IBM Business Partner or sales rep.
technorati tags: Scott Adams, Dilbert, prediction, confusopoly, economic meltdown, Chuck Hollis, EMC, Kostadis Roussos, NetApp, Supermarkets, Specialty Shops, IBM, HP, Sun, Dell, HDS, VMware, Wal-Mart, EqualLogic, OEM, N3300, Fibre Channel, FC, iSCSI, NX4, COS