Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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This is a reasonable question. Since Invista 2.0 came out months ago in August, and Invista 2.1 is rumored to be out by end of this month, why put out a press release now, rather than just wait a few weeks? Thesignificant part of this announcement was that EMC finally has their first customer reference.To be fair, getting a customer to agree to be a reference is difficult for any vendor. Some non-profitsand government agencies have rules against it, and some corporations just don't want to be bothered byjournalists, or take phone calls from other prospective customers. I suspect EMC wanted to put the good folks from Purdue University in front of the cameras and microphones before they:
In Moore's terminology, Purdue University would be a "technology enthusiast", interested in exploring the technologyof the EMC Invista. Universities by their very nature often see themselves as early adopters, willing to take big risks in hopes to reap big rewards. The chasm happens later, when there are a lot of early adopters, all willing to be reference accounts. The mainstream market--shown here as pragmatists, conservatives, and skeptics-- are unwillingto accept reference claims from early adopters, searching instead for moderate gains from minimal risks. They prefer references from customers that are similar in size and industry. Whether a vendor can get a product to cross this chasm is the focus of the book.
Why "SAN" virtualization?
Technically, Invista is "storage" virtualization, not "SAN" virtualization. Virtualizationis any technology that makes one set of resources look and feel like a different setof resources, preferably with more desirable characteristics. You can virtualizeservers, SANs, and storage resources.
Virtual SAN (VSAN) technology, supported bythe Cisco MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Director Switch, partitions a single physical SAN into multipleVSANs, allowing different business functions and requirements to share a common physical infrastructure.
How does Invista advance Cisco's VSAN functionality? It doesn't, but that doesn't makethe title a falsehood, or the press release by association full of lies.If you read the entire press release, EMCcorrectly states that Invista is "storage" virtualization. Some storagevirtualization products, like EMC Invista and IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), require a SAN as a platform for which to perform their magic.Marketing people might use the term "SAN" torefer not just the network gear that provides the plumbing, but also to include the storage devices that are attached to the SAN. In that light, theuse of "SAN virtualization" can be understood in the title.
More importantly, it appears that EMC no longer requires that you purchase new SAN equipment from themwith Invista. When the Invista first came out, it cost over a quarter-million US dollars to cover thecost of the intelligent switches, but with the price drop to $100K, I imagine this means theyassume everyone has an appropriately-supported intelligent switch already deployed.
Why this architecture?
In his post [Storage Virtualization and Invista 2.0], EMC blogger ChuckH does a fair job explaining why EMC went in this direction for Invista, and how it is different thanother storage virtualization products.
Most storage virtualization products are cache-based. The world's first disk storagevirtualization product, the IBM 3850 Mass Storage System, introduced in 1974, and thefirst tape virtualization product, the IBM 3494 Virtual tape Server, introduced in 1997, bothused disk cache in front of tape storage. Later virtualization products, like IBM SVC and HDS USP-V, use DRAM memory cache in front of disk storage, but the concept is the same.People are comfortable with cache-based solutions, because the technology is matureand well proven in the marketplace, and excited and delighted that these can offer the following features in a mixed heterogeneous disk environment:
instantaneous point-in-time copy
None of these features are provided by Invista, as there is no cache in the switch. Instead,Invista is a "packet cracker"; it cracks open each FCP packet, inspects and modifies the contents, then passes theFCP packet along to the appropriate storage device. This process slows down each read andwrite by some amount, perhaps 20 microseconds. The disadvantage of slowing down every readand write is offset by having other benefits, like non-disruptive data migration.
To compensate for Invista's inability to provide these features,EMC offers a second solution called EMC RecoverPoint, which is an in-band cache-based appliancesimilar in design to SVC, but maps all virtual disks one-to-one to physical disks. It offersremote distance asynchronous mirroring between heterogeneous devices.EMC supports RecoverPoint in front of Invista, but if you are considering buying bothto get the combined set of features, you might as well buy an IBM SVC or HDS USP-V instead,in one system, rather than two, which is much less complicated. IBM SVC and HDS USP-Vhave both "crossed the chasm" having sold thousands of units to every type and size of customer.
Hopefully, this answers the questions you might have about EMC Invista.
This week I was aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California! This was a business event organized by [Key Info Systems], a valued IBM Business Partner. Key Info resells IBM servers, storage and switches.
The Queen Mary retired in 1967, and has been converted into a hotel and events venue. The locals just parked their car and walked on board, but I got to stay Tuesday through Thursday in one of the cabins. It was long and narrow, with round windows! There were four dials for the bathtub: Cold Salt, Hot Fresh, Cold Fresh, and Hot Salt.
Stepping on the boat was like walking back in time through history! If you decide to go see it, check out the [Art Deco bar at the front of the Promenade deck. The ship is still in the water, but is permanently docked. It is sectioned off to prevent the ocean waves from affecting it, so we did not have the nauseous moving back and forth normally associated with cruise ships.
(It is with a bit of irony that we are on the Queen Mary just days after the tragedy of the [Costa Concordia], the largest Italian cruise ship that ran aground near Isola de Giglio. The captain will have to explain how he [fell into a lifeboat] before he had a chance to wait for everyone else to get safely off the shipwreck. He was certainly no [Captain Sulley]! I am thankful that most of the 4,200 people survived the incident.)
Lief Morin, Founder and Chief Executive for Key Info Systems, kicked off the meeting with highlights of 2011 successes. I have known Lief for years, as Key Info comes to the Tucson EBC on a frequent basis. This event was designed to give his sellers an update of what is the latest for each product line, and what to look forward to in the next 12-18 months.
The next speaker was from Vision Solutions that provides High Availability solutions for IBM i on Power Systems. In 2010, their company nearly doubled in size with the acquisition of Double-Take, which provides data replication for x86 servers running Windows, Linux, VMware, Hyper-V and other hypervisors. The capabilities of Double-Take sounded similar to what IBM offers with [Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack] and [Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments].
Dinner at Sir Winston's
Rather than take the "Ghosts and Legends" tour, I opted for dinner at the Queen Mary's signature restaurant, Sir Winston's. This is a fancy place, so dress accordingly. If you want the Raspberry soufflé, order it early as it takes 30 minutes to prepare!
[Storwize V7000], including the new Storwize V7000 Unified configuration
Storage is an important part of the Key Info Systems revenue stream, so I was glad to have lots of questions and interactions from the audience.
Murder Mystery Dinner
The acting troupe from [Dinner Detective] put on quite the show for us! With all that is going on in the world, it is good to laugh out loud every now and then.
In other murder mystery dinners I have participated in, each person is assigned a "character" and given a script of what to say and when to say it. This was different, we got to pick our own characters. I chose "Doctor Watson", from the Sherlock Holmes series. Several attendees thought it was a double meaning with [IBM Watson], the computer that figured out the clues on Jeopardy! television game show, and has since been [put to work at Wellpoint] to help out the Healthcare industry.
After the "murder" happened, two actors portraying policemen selected members of the audience to answer questions. We didn't get a script of what to say, so everyone had to "ad lib". I was singled out as a suspect, and had fun playing along in character. One of the attendees afterwards said he was impressed that I was able to fabricate such amusing and elaborate responses to their personal and embarassing questions. As a public speaker for IBM, I have had a lot of practice thinking quickly on my feet.
Fibre Channel and Ethernet Switches
The next two speakers gave us an update on Fibre Channel and Ethernet switches, and their thoughts on the inevitability of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). One of the exciting new developments is the [Brocade Network Subscription] which creates a flexible pay-per-use Ethernet port rental model for customers. This is especially timely given the Financial Accounting Standards Board proposed [FASB Change 13] that affects operating leases in the balance sheet.
With the Brocade Network Subscription, you pay monthly for the ports you are using. Need more ports, Brocade will install the added gear. Use fewer ports, Brocade will take the equipment back. There is no term endpoint or residual value like tradtional leasing, so when you are done using the equipment, give it back any time. This is ideal for companies that may need to have a lot of Ethernet ports for the next 2-3 years, but then plan to taper down, and don't want to get stuck with a long-term commitment or capital depreciation.
The last speaker was from VMware. IBM is the #1 reseller of VMware, and VMware commands an impressive 81 percent marketshare in the x86 virtualization space. The speaker presented VMware's strategy going forward, which aligns well with IBM's own strategy, to help companies Cloud-enable their existing IT infrastructures, in preparation for eventual moves to Hybrid or Public cloud deployments.
Special thanks to Lief Morin for sponsoring this event, Raquel Hernandez from IBM for coordinating my travel, and Pete, Christina and Kendrell from Key Info Systems for organizing the activities!
An avid reader of this blog pointed me to a blog post [A Small Tec DIGG on IBM XIV], byGowri Ananthan, a System Engineer in Singapore.Basically, she covers past battles, er.. discussions between me and fellow blogger BarryB from EMC, and [blegs] foranswers to three questions.
Gowri, here are your answers:
Q1. Does IBM offer a Pay-as-you-Go [PAYGO] upgrade path for its IBM XIV disk storage system?
The concern was expressed as:
PAYGO also requires the customer to purchase the remaining capacity within 12 months of installation. So it is More of a 12-month installment plan than pay-as-you-grow.
A1. Actually, IBM offers several methods for your convenience:
With IBM's Capacity on Demand (CoD) plan, you get the full framewith 15 modules installed on your data center floor, but only pay for the first four modules 21 TB, then pay for 5.3TB module increments as you need them over the next 12 months. This is ideal for companies that don't know how fast they will grow, but do not want to wait for new modules to be delivered and installed when needed.
With IBM's Partial Rack offering, you can get a system with as little as six modules (27TB),and then over time, add more modules as you need. This does not have to be done within 12 months, you can stay at six modules for as long as you like, and you can take as long asyou want to add more modules. When you are ready for more capacity, the drawer or drawerscan be delivered, and installed non-disruptively.
Neither of these are "payment installment plans", but certainly if you want to spread yourcosts into regularly-scheduled monthlypayments across multiple years, IBM Global Financing can probably work something out.
Q2. Does IBM consider the XIV as green storage?
The concern was expressed as:
You are powering (8.4KW) and cooling all 180 drives for the whole duration, whether you're using the capacity or not. is it what you called Greener power usage..?
A2. Yes. IBM considers the IBM XIV as green storage. The 8.4KW per frame is lessthan the 10-plus KW that a comparable 2-frame EMC DMX-950 system would consume. Theenergy savings in IBM XIV comes from delivering FC-like speeds using slower SATA disks that rotate slower, and therefore take less energy to spin.
In the fully-populated or Capacity on Demand configuration, you would spin all 180disks. However, using the partial rack configuration, the 6-module has only 40 percent ofthe disks, and therefore consumes only 40 percent of the energy. If you don't plan to storeat least 20-30 TB, you might consider the DS3000, DS4000, DS5000, or DS8000 disk system instead.
Q3. How do you connect more than 24 host ports to an IBM XIV?
The concern was expressed as:
And finally do not forget my question on 24-FC Ports… Up to 24 Fiber Channel ports offering 4 Gbps, 2Gbps or 1 Gbps multi-mode and single-mode support.Stop.. stop.. how you gonna squeeze existing bunch of FC cables in 24 ports?
A3. Best practices suggest that if you have ten or more physical servers, each with two separate FC ports, then you should use a SAN switch or director in between. If you require four ports per server, then you would need a SAN switch beyond six servers to connect to the IBM XIV. If you consider that 24 FC ports, at 4Gbps, represents nearly 10 GB/sec of bandwidth, you will recognize that this is not a performance bottleneck for the system.
This week I am in Japan, so my week's theme will center around travel, speaking at conferences, and Japan itself. I first travelled to Japan in the late 1980s, to visit a college friend who was working for Ford Motor Company, on assignment in Japan as liasion to Mazda Corp.
Back then, the only Japanese phrase I knew was "Wakarimashta" which means "I know" or "I understand". If you only know one phrase in a foreign language, this possibly could be the worst to know.
My second trip, I was better prepared. I learned three "survival phrases":
sumimasen - "I'm sorry/excuse me" hanashimasen - "I don't speak" wakarimasen - "I don't know / I don't understand"
These are great phrases to know individually, but even more powerful strung all together, to emphasize that you will begin speaking English, but at least with good reason (and perhaps a bit of irony.)
I've been to Japan many times since, and have picked up more of the language. When travelling to Japan, or anywhere for that matter, it is important to "pack light". I'll be gone for two weeks, but all I bring is a laptop bag and one carry-on piece of luggage.
I went on a trip to Prague (Czech Republic) with a female co-worker who brought FOUR pieces of luggage. One was just for shoes. Another piece was just for hair styling gel, make-up, face creams and finger nail polish. Today, the rules are different, and the TSA allows only a single quart-size plastic bag containing little jars of 3 ounces or less of liquids or gels. I didn't have any "quart-size" bags, so I used a smaller sandwich-size bag.
What does all this have to do with storage? I've helped many clients move data centers, and this involves moving their servers, their networks, and their storage. Servers and Networks are easy to move, but storage presents some challenges. In many cases, the entire company is shut down, the storage is moved, and then the company is operational again. Needless to say, it is best to do this over a weekend.
I tell clients to "pack light" and figure out what data they really need in the move. What do you really need to operate your business? Bring just that, the rest can arrive later.
This same concept applies for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning. What do you really need after a disaster occurs? Can you run your business for a few weeks on that data, until the rest of the data is restored? If you can't run your entire business on that data, can you run your most important parts of your business?
If you run a bank, perhaps keeping your ATM cash machines running is more important than making out new loans. In Japan, if a bank has any outages that impact their ATM machines, they put out a full page advertisement in the local papers to apologize for the inconvenience.
Business Continuity is one of the nine "Infrastructure Solutions" that IBM can help clients with. If you are interested in learning more on how IBM can help you with your Business Continuity, click here.
This week I'm in beautiful Guadalajara, Mexico teaching at our[System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class].We have all of our various routes-to-market represented here, including our direct sales force, our technicalteams, our online IBM.COM website sales, as well as IBM Business Partners.Everyone is excited over last week's IBM announcement of [4Q07 and full year 2007 results], which includesdouble-digit growth in our IBM System Storage business, led by sales of our DS8000, SAN Volume Controller and Tapesystems. Obviously, as an IBM employee and stockholder, I am biased, so instead I thought I would provide someexcerpts from other bloggers and journalists.
But what was striking in the company’s conference call on Thursday afternoon was the unhedged optimism in its outlook for 2008, given the strong whiff of recession fear elsewhere.
The questions from Wall Street analysts in the conference call had a common theme. Why are you so comfortable about the 2008 outlook? Now, that might just be professional churlishness, since so many of them have been so wrong recently about I.B.M. Wall Street had understandably thought, for example, that I.B.M.’s sales to financial services companies — the technology giant’s largest single customer category — would suffer in the fourth quarter, given the way banks have been battered by the mortgage credit crunch.
But Mr. Loughridge said that revenue from financial services customers rose 11 percent in the fourth quarter, to $8 billion. The United States, he noted, accounts for only 25 percent of I.B.M.’s financial services business.
The other thing that seems apparent is how much I.B.M.’s long-term strategy of moving up to higher-profit businesses and increasingly relying on services and software is working. Its huge services business grew 17 percent to $14.9 billion in the quarter. After the currency benefit, the gain was 10 percent, but still impressive. Software sales rose 12 percent to $6.3 billion.
Looking at IBM's business segments, it can be seen that they offer far more coverage of the technology space that those of the typical tech company:
IBM is just so big and diversified that there is little comparison between it and most other tech companies. IBM is a member of an elite group of companies like Cisco Systems (CSCO), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL) or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).
IBM's wide international coverage and deep technological capabilities dwarf those of most tech companies. Not only do they have sales organizations worldwide but they have developers, consultants, R&D workers and supply chain workers in each geographic region. Their product mix runs from custom software to packaged enterprise software, hardware (mainframes and servers), semiconductors, databases, middleware technology, etc., etc. There are few tech companies that even attempt to support that many kinds and variations of products.
As color on the fourth quarter earnings announcement, there are a couple of observations that I would like to make. The first one speaks to IBM's international prowess. The company indicated that growth in the Americas was only 5%. International sales were a primary driver of IBM's good results. As an insight on the difference between IBM and most other tech companies, it is clear that nowadays, a tech company that isn't adept at selling internationally is going to be in trouble.
Terrific performance in a terrific year - no doubt a result of its strong global model. IBM operates in 170 countries, with about 65% of its employees outside US and about 30% in Asia Pacific. For fiscal 2007, revenues from Americas grew 4% to $41.1 billion (42% of total revenue), [EMEA] grew 14% to $34.7 billion (35%of total revenue), and Asia-Pacific grew by 11% to $19.5 billion (19.7% of total revenue). IBM sees growth prospects not just in [BRIC] but also countries like Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Peru, and Singapore.
Thus far 2008–all two weeks of it–hasn’t been a pretty for the tech industry. Worries about the economy prevail. And even companies that had relatively good things to say like Intel get clobbered. It’s ugly out there–unless you’re IBM.
I am sure there will be more write-ups and analyses on this over the next coming weeks, and others will probably waituntil more tech companies announce their results for comparison.
Despite having business meetings every day I was here in Moscow, I managed to do a bit of sightseeing. June is a good month to visit Russia, as there are nearly 18 hours of daylight to see things. Some things are outdoors, and not constrained to normal business hours.
Near my hotel, the [Crowne Plaza at the World Trade Center], was a cute little park called "Ulista 1905 Goda". It is always nice to see large cities set aside space for nature. There were plenty of park benches to sit and enjoy. The word Ulista simply means "Street" in Russian language, and 1905 refers to the year of historical importance.
The [1905 Russian Revolution] was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies, including sailors aboard the battleship Potemkin. Alexander Adrianov became Moscow's first official mayor. The revolution led to the establishment of the State Duma of the Russian Empire, the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906, ending the reign of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia.
Walking from my hotel towards the direction of the Kremlin, I managed to find the [Old Arbat street], which has been around since the 15th century. This was considered a prestigious area of town, home to many artists, academics and politicians. Today, it is pedestrian-only, no cars allowed, with various souvenir shops and restaurants.
This is [Saint Basil's Cathedral], on the [Red Square]. This is officially The Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, but there is no longer any moat.
There is a lot to see around the Red Square to see. The [Kremlin] is a walled castle with an [Armoury Chamber] and various other cathedrals and government buildings to see inside. A ticket for the Armoury Chamber will set you back 700 rubles (about 22 bucks). [Lenin's Masoleum] is free of charge, but only open for three hours on weekdays, from 10:00am to 1:00pm, so plan accordingly.
Returning back to the hotel from the event venue on Wednesday, I walked past the [Cathedral of Christ the Saviour] on my way to the Kropotskinskaya subway station. It is actually across the river from the Red Square. Built in 1860, it is considered the tallest Orthodox church in the world at 344 feet. The domes are electroplated in gold.
I found the taxis to be ridiculously expensive here in Moscow, so I took to the subway instead. If fellow filmmaker John Waters can [hitchhike across the state of Ohio], I can certainly be adventurous and ride the Moscow Metro.
The Moscow Metro is second most used rapid transit system in the world (the first being the one in Tokyo). As a result, the subway can get quite crowded, but I found being squashed into a carload of Russian supermodels to be quite tolerable. The price is a bargain at only 28 rubles per ride (less than a dollar), with unlimited transfers.
While the Metro is a great way to get around the city, it is also a destination in itself, as the system was built in 1935 and has historical architectures that you can only see underground. At the [Ploshchad Revolyutsii station], for example, there is a whole collection of bronze statues of men and women in different work roles. For the statue of the frontier guard, many people rub the dog's nose for good luck that it has become bright and shiny.
Dispel quickly the notion that you need to eat traditional Russian food while in Moscow. A bowl of Borsch (a watery soup made from beets) and a plate of Beef Stroganof set me back 50 bucks! Apparently, restaurants know that only tourists ask for "traditional Russian food", so the prices are set accordingly.
I had to find less expensive eats to stay within my per diem meal limits. Where do the locals eat? Russia is a modern country, with plenty of Burger King, Wendy's, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.
No visit to any foreign country would be complete without at least eating one meal at McDonald's. Before working for IBM, I did software engineering for McDonald's, so as a former employee, I try to visit at least one McDonald's in every country. They have restaurants in over 120 countries, so I have a ways to go yet.
A meal consisting of a "Royal" quarter-pounder with cheese, large fries and a Coke was only 214 rubles, less than seven dollars. The meat patty was medium rare, just like I make at home. You just can't get that in the States where everything has to be overcooked to avoid food-bourne illnesses. The fries were a bit over-salted, but the Coke struck just the right balance of syrup and carbonation.
Moscow is home to many museums and art galleries. The [State Tretyakov Gallery] focuses on sculptures and oil paintings from Russian artists, named after a Russian merchant who dontated his collection to get it started.
Plan a good two hours to see everything. There were many guided tour groups when I was there, which slowed me down getting through the large crowds of old people.
There were over 50 rooms, with subject matter ranging from portraits, ships, and buildings, to piles of dead bodies in battle scenes. I especially liked the unique styles of [Mikhail Vrubel] and [Vasily Vereshchagin]. In many of the rooms, there were laminated placards in large-type English that explained the pieces on display.
My last stop was the [Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU)]. This served two purposes. First, it is situated up on a hill so that you can see a great view of the rest of the city. Second, there were street vendors selling souvenirs, including the ever-popular [Matryoshka dolls], military hats, keychains, and refrigerator magnets.
In other countries, I have found going to the movies as an interesting way to see the locals in action. Foreign movies are shown here in their original language, with either Russian subtitles for the locals or headphones to hear the Russian dubbed audio track. Sadly, I did not have time to do that this week. This poster, depicting the latest Disney movie "Brave", indicates that it opens this weekend.
As always, from a sightseeing perspective, I try to leave a few things un-done, so I have reason to come back. If you know of any other exciting things to see or do in Moscow, please put that in the comments below so that I can consider it for my next trip! I would like to thank my IBM Russia colleagues Rimma Vladimirova and Sunil Bagai for their suggestions and assistance.
Last week, I was in Austin, and had dinner at [Rudy's Country Store and BBQ]. They offer their self-proclaimed "Worst BBQ in Austin!" with brisket, sausage and other meats by weight. I got a beer, some potato salad, and creamed corn, all at additional cost, of course. When I went to the cashier to pay, I was offered all the white bread I wanted at no additional charge. Are you kidding me? You are going to charge me for beer, but give me 8 to 12 complimentary slices of white bread (practically half a loaf)? Honestly, I consider bread and beer to be basically the same functional food item, differing only in solid versus liquid form. I chose to have only four slices. The food was awesome!
I am reminded of that from my latest exchange with EMC.It didn't take long after IBM's announcement yesterday of IBM's continued investment in its strategic product set, IBM System Storage DS8000 series, that competitors responded. In particular, fellow blogger BarryB from EMC has a post [DS8000 Finally Gets Thin Provisioning] that pokes fun at the new Thin Provisioning feature.
Interestingly, the attack is not on the technical implementation, which is straightforward and rock-solid, but rather that the feature is charged at a flat rate of $69,000 US dollars (list price) per disk array. BarryB claims that recently EMC Corporate has decided to reduce the price of their own thin provisioning, called Symmetrix Virtual Provisioning (VP) on select subset of models of their storage portfolio, although I have not found an EMC press release to confirm. In other words, EMC will bury the cost of thin provisioning into the total cost for new sales, and stop shafting, er.. over-charging their existing Symmetrix customers that are interesting in licensing this feature.
BarryB claims this was a lucky coincidence that his blog post happened just days before IBM's announcement.
(Update: While the timing appears suspicious, I am not accusing Mr. Burke in anywrongdoing of insider information of IBM's plans, nor am I aware of any investigations on this matter from the SEC or any other government agency, and apologize if my previous attempt at humor suggested otherwise. BarryB claimsthat the reduction in price was motivated to counter publicly announced HDS's "Switch In On" program, that it is not a secret thatEMC reduced VP pricing weeks ago, effective beginning 3Q09, just not widely advertised in any formal EMC press releases.Perhaps this new VP pricing was only disclosed to just EMC's existing Symmetrix customers, Business Partners, and employees. Perhaps EMC's decision not to announce this in a Press Release was to avoid upsetting all the EMC CLARiiON customers that continue to pay for Thin Provisioning, or to avoid a long line of existing VP customers asking for refunds. In any case, people are innocent until proven otherwise, and BarryB rightfully deserves the presumption of innocence in this regard. I'm sorry, BarryB, for any trouble my previous comments may have caused you.)
Instead, let's explore some events over the past year that have led up to this.
Let's start with what EMC previously charged for this feature. Software features like this often follow a common pricing method, based per TB, so larger configurations pay more, but tiered in a manner that larger configurations pay less per TB, combined with a yearly maintenance cost.
(Updated: EMC has asked me nicely not to post their actual list prices,so I will provide rough estimates instead. According to BarryB, these are no longer the current prices, soI present them as historical figures for comparison purposes only.)
Initial List price
Software Maintenance (SWMA) percentage
Software Maintenance per year
Number of years
Software License Cost (4 years)
Holy cow! How did EMC get away charging so much for this? To be fair, these are often deeply discounted, a practice common among the industry. However, it was easy for IBMers to show EMC customers that putting SVC or N series gateways in front of their existing EMC disks was more cost effective. Both SVC and N series, as well as IBM's XIV, provide thin provisioning at no additional charge.
HDS offers their own thin provisioning called Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning.Hitachi also offers an SVC-like capability to virtualize storage behind the USP-V. However, I suspect thatfewer than 10 percent of their install base actually licensed this capability because it cost so much. Under the cost pressure from IBM's thin provisioning capabilities in SVC, XIV and N series, Hitachi launched its ["Switch It On"] marketing campaign to activate virtualization and provide some features at no additional charge, including the first 10TB of Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning.
Last week, Martin Glassborow on his StorageBod blog, argued that EMC and HDS should[Set the Wide Stripes Free]. Here is an excerpt:
HDS and EMC are both extremely guilty in this regard, both Virtual Provisioning and Dynamic Provisioning cost me extra as an end-user to license. But this is the technology upon which all future block-based storage arrays will be built. If you guys want to improve the TCO and show that you are serious about reducing the complexity to manage your arrays, you will license for free. You will encourage the end-user to break free from the shackles of complexity and you will improve the image of Tier-1 storage in the enterprise.
Martin is using the term "free" in two contexts above. In the Linux community, we are careful to clarify "free, as in free speech" or "free, as in free beer". Technically, EMC's virtual provisioning is neither, as one has to purchase the hardware to get the feature, so the term "at no additional charge" is more legally correct.
However, the discussion of "free beer" brings me back to my first paragraph about Rudy's BBQ. Nearly everyone eats bread, with the exception of those with [Celiac Disease] that causesan intolerance for gluten protein in wheat, so burying the cost of white bread in the base cost of the BBQ meat is reasonable. In contrast, not everyone drinks beer, and there are probably several people whowould complain if the cost of beer was included in the cost of the BBQ meat, so charging separately forbeer makes business sense.
The same applies in the storage industry. When all (or most) customers of a product can benefit from a feature, it makes sense to include it at no additional charge. When a significant subset might not want to pay a higher base price because they won't use or benefit from a feature, it makes sense to make it optionally priced.
For the IBM SVC, XIV and N series, all customers can benefit from thin provisioning, so it is included at no additional charge.
For the IBM System Storage DS8000, perhaps some 30 to 40 percent of our clients have only System z and/or System i servers attached, and therefore would not benefit from this new thin provisioning. It may seem unfair to raise the price on everybody. The $69,000 flat rate was competitively priced against the prices EMC, HDS and 3PAR were charging for similar capability, and lower than the cost to add a new SVC cluster in front of the DS8000. IBM also charges an annual maintenance, but far lower than what others charged as well.
(Note: These list prices are approximate, and vary slightly based on whether you are on legacy, ESA, Servicesuite or ServiceElect software and subscription (S&S) service plans, and the machine type/model. The tables were too complicated to include here in this post, so these numbers are rounded for comparison purposes only.)
IBM flat rate
Software Maintenance per year (approx)
Number of years
Software License Cost (4 years)
Pricing is more art than science. Getting the right pricing structure that appears fair to everyone involved can be a complicated process.