A young carpenter immigrates to the United States from Italy, unable to speak a word of English. Upon arrival, he moves into a small apartment by himself and begins looking for a job in construction. With some luck and a lot of hard work, he quickly lands a job at a local construction site. Over the coming weeks he learns how to say “hello” and “goodbye” to his English-only coworkers. As time goes on, he is able to learn more complex phrases and commands and is now able to begin taking on jobs that better match his level of expertise.
Several years after the carpenter moved to the US, he now speaks fluent English and has started a family with an American woman and now speaks only English on the job site and at home. One afternoon, while hammering at the framing of a new home, the carpenter strikes his thumb. In what language does he curse?Italian, of course.
We believe that this story illustrates the nature of reacting to difficult, stressful, and, yes, painful situations by reverting to what you know best. This is the reason that coaches ask their players to make certain actions “instinctual” – simply, when times get tough, we do what we fall back on our native language.
Last September, in my post[Supermarketsand Specialty Shops] I mentioned how Forrester Research identified two kinds of IT vendors selling storage. On one side were the"information infrastructure" companies (IBM, HP, Sun, and Dell) that focus on providing one-stop shopping for clients that want all parts of an IT solution, including servers, storage, software and services. These I compared to "supermarkets".
On the other side were the storage component vendors (EMC, HDS, NetApp, and many others) that focus on specificstorage components. These I compared to "specialty shops", like butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.These often appeal to customers with big enough IT staffs with the skills to do their own system integration.The key difference seems to be that the supermarkets are client-focused, and the specialty shops are technology-focused, and different people prefer to do business with one side or another.This came in handy last November to explain Dell's acquisition of EqualLogic and discuss[IBMEntry-Level iSCSI offerings].
Some recent news seems to fit this model, in relation to the Native Language Theory.
Several argued that EMC was in the process of shifting sides, from disk specialty shop over to an everything-but-servers supermarket. Certainly many of its acquisitions in software, services, and VMwarewould support the notion that perhaps they are going through an identity crisis.The immediate beneficiary was HDS, the #2 disk specialty shop, that passedup EMC with innovative features in its USP-V disk system.
However, times are tough, especially in the U.S. economy that many storage vendors are focused on. EMCappears to have found its native language, going back to its roots of solid state storage systems thatthey started with back in 1979. This week EMC announced [Symmetrix DMX-4 support of Flash drives].Several bloggers review the technology involved:
- Chuck Hollis [Enterprise Storage Strikes Back]
- Storage Anarchist [Bold, Fast, Green]
- StorageZilla [Enterprise Flash for DMX-4]
- Stephen Foskett [Flash! EMC's DMX is the new thing again]
Overall smart move for EMC to go back to its technology-focused disk specialty shop mode and go head-to-head against the HDS threat. With Web 2.0 workloads moving off these monolithic solutions and onto [clustered storage more appropriate for "cloud computing"], large enterprise-class disk systems like theIBM System Storage DS8000 and EMC DMX-4 can shift focus on what they do best: online transaction processing (OLTP) and large databases. However,I noticed the EMC press release mentions EMC as an "information infrastructure" company, so perhaps they stillhaven't resolved their identity crisis.
(For the record, IBM shipped [Flash drive-based storage last year], and announced [larger drive models] this week. As we have learned from last year, terms like "First" or "Leader" in corporate press releases should not always be taken literally.)
- Sun Microsystems
After Sun acquired StorageTek specialty shop, they too had a bit of an identity crisis.Fortunately, they realized their core strengths were on the "supermarket" side,moved storage in with servers in their latest restructuring, changed their NYSE symbol from SUNW to JAVA, and reset their focus on providing end-to-end solutions like IBM. For example, fellow blogger Taylor Allis from Sun mentions their latest in "clustered storage" in his post[IBM Buys XIV - Good Move].
Last August, in my post [Fundamental Changes for Green Data Centers], I mentioned that IBM consolidated 3900 rack-optimized servers onto 33 mainframes,and that this was part of our announcement that[since 1997, IBM has consolidated its strategic worldwide data centers from 155 to seven].I noticed in Nick Carr's Rough Type blog post[The Network is the Data Center] thatHP and Sun have followed suit:
In an ironic twist, some of today's leading manufacturers of server computers are also among the companies moving most aggressively to reduce their need for servers and other hardware components. Hewlett-Packard, for instance, is in the midst of a project to slash the number of data centers it operates from 85 to 6 and to cut the number of servers it uses by 30 percent. Now, Sun Microsystems is upping the stakes. Brian Cinque, the data center architect in Sun's IT department, says the company's goal is to close down all its internal data centers by 2015. "Did I just say 0 data centers?" he writes on his blog."Yes! Our goal is to reduce our entire data center presence by 2015."
While Nick feels this is ironic for Sun, known for UNIX servers based on their SPARC chip technology, I don't. Sun has shifted from being technology-focused to being client-focused.This is where the marketplace is going, and the supermarket vendors, being client-focused, are best positioned to adapt to this new world. In a sense, Sun found its roots. Nick summarizes this as:"The network, to spin the old Sun slogan, becomes the data center."
So, each move seems to strengthen their respective identities back to their origins, or at least help them communicate that to the market.
technorati tags: core strengths, native language, Forrester Research, supermarket, specialty shops, IBM, HP, Sun, Dell, information infrastructure, client-focused, technology-focused, EqualLogic, EMC, HDS, NetApp, USP-V, DMX-4, Flash, disk, drive, systems, Java, Taylor Allis, UNIX, SPARC, Nick Carr