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The Two Faces of EMC
Perhaps the recent financial meltdown is making storage vendors nervous.Both IBM and EMC gained market share in 3Q08, but EMC is acting strangelyat IBM's latest series of plays and announcements. Almost contradictory!
Benchmarks bad, rely on your own in-house evaluations instead
Let's start with fellow blogger Barry Burke from EMC, who offers his latest post[Benchmarketing Badly] with commentaryabout Enterprise Strategy Group's [DS5300 Lab Validation Report]. The IBM System Storage DS5300 is one of IBM's latest midrange disk systems recently announced. Take for example this excerpt from BarryB's blog post:
"I was pleasantly surprised to learn that both IBM and ESG agree with me about the relevance and importance of the Storage Performance Council benchmarks.
That is, SPC's are a meaningless tool by which to measure or compare enterprise storage arrays."
Nowhere in the ESG report says this, nor have I found any public statements from either IBM nor ESG that makes this claim. Instead, the ESG report explains that traditional benchmarks from the Storage Performance Council [SPC] focus on a single, specific workload, and ESG has chosen to complement this with a variety of other benchmarks to perform their product validation, including VMware's "VMmark", Oracle's Orion Utility, and Microsoft's JetStress.
Benchmarks provide prospective clients additional information to make purchasedecisions. IBM understands this, ESG understands this, and other well-respected companies like VMware, Oracle and Microsoft understand this. EMC is afraid that benchmarks mightencourage a client to "mistakenly" purchase a faster IBM product than a slower EMC product. Sunshine makes a great disinfectant, but EMC (and vampires) prefer their respective "prospects" remain in the dark.
Perhaps stranger still is BarryB's postscript. Here's an excerpt:
"... a customer here asked me if EMC would be willing to participate in an initiative to get multiple storage vendors to collaborate on truly representative real-world "enterprise-class" benchmarks, and I reassured him that I would personally sponsor active and objective participation in such an effort - IF he could get the others to join in with similar intent."
As I understand it, EMC was once part of the Storage Performance Council a long time ago, then chose to drop out of it. Why re-invent the wheel by creating yet another storage industry benchmark group? EMC is welcome to come back to SPC anytime! In addition to the SCP-1 and SPC-2 workloads, there is work underway for an SPC-3 benchmark. Each SPC workload provides additional insight for product comparisons to help with purchase decisions. If EMC can suggest an SPC-4 benchmark that it feels is more representative of real-world conditions, they are welcome to join the SPC party and make that a reality.
The old adage applies: ["It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness"]. EMC has been cursing the lack of what it considers to be acceptable benchmarks but has yet to offer anything more realistic or representative than SPC.What does EMC suggest you do instead? Get an evaluation box and run your own workloads and see for yourself! EMC has in the past offered evaluation units specifically for this purpose.
In-house evaluations bad, it's a trap!
Certainly, if you have the time and staff to run your own evaluation, with your own applications in your own environment, then I agree with EMC that this can provide better insight for your particular situation than standardized benchmarks.
In fact, that is exactly what IBM is doing for IBM XIV storage units, which are designed for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that current SPC benchmarks don't focus on. Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC opines in his post[Get yer free XIV!]. Here's an excerpt:
"Now that I think about it, this could get ugly. Imagine a customer who puts one on the floor to evaluate it, and -- in a moment of desperation or inattention -- puts production data on the device.
Nobody was paying attention, and there you are. Now IBM comes calling for their box back, and you've got a choice as to whether to go ahead and sign the P.O., or migrate all your data off the thing. Maybe they'll sell you an SVC to do this?
Yuck. I bet that happens more than once. And I can't believe that IBM (or the folks at XIV) aren't aware of this potentially happening."
Perhaps Chuck is speaking from experience here, as this may have happened with customers with EMC evaluation boxes, and is afraid this could happen with IBM XIV. I don't see anything unique about IBM XIV in the above concern. Typical evaluations involve copying test data onto the box, test it out with some particular application or workload, and then delete the data no longer required. Repeat as needed. Moving data off an IBM XIV is aseasy as moving data off an EMC DMX, EMC CLARiiON or EMC Celerra, and I am sure IBM wouldgladly demonstrate this on any EMC gear you now have.
Thanks to its clever RAID-X implementation, losing data on an IBM XIV is less likely thanlosing data on any RAID-5 based disk array from any storage vendor. Of course, there will always be skeptics about new technology that will want to try the box out for themselves.
If EMC thought the IBM XIV had nothing unique to offer, that its performance was just "OK",and is not as easy to manage as IBM says it is, then you would think EMC would gladly encourage such evaluations and comparisons, right?
No, I think EMC is afraid that companies will discover what they already know, that IBM has quality products that would stand a fair chance of side-by-side comparisons with their own offerings.We have enough fear, uncertainty and doubt from our current meltdown of the global financial markets, don't let EMC add any more.
Have a safe and fun Halloween! If you need to add some light to your otherwise dark surroundings, consider some of these ideas for [Jack-O-Lanterns]!