Let’s start by introducing myself, I am a sales and marketing professional (aka junkie) who has been focused on enterprise storage, flash and future technologies for the last 20+ years. While I work with Hitachi’s best and brightest scientists, engineers and executives, the frustrating thing is that due to the nature of my work I can’t talk about it. With social media though I can talk about the technology areas where HDS is doing development. My personal goal with this blog series is to lift the veil behind a lot of new technology hype to make it easier for IT professionals and buyers to compare different vendor offerings and assess their value…
Why now? While on vacation, I met a buyer that shared one of his best “trade secrets”. He could tell with 100% accuracy when the supplier he was negotiating with was truly offering the best price. His answer: when the sales team started to openly curse in the meeting when describing the deal! I reflected on his words wishing the information technology business was that simple. I realized that in many ways, the storage market is exactly like that, emotionally driven. Just like politics.
As a new dad, I am often surprised to see how quickly my pre-school son can get into an argument with another kid at his local playground… No surprise for seasoned parent, the fighting often starts over a toy some other kid does not want to share or over a game... a crying follows soon after.
I seldom hear a similar childish behavior at work; junior sales professionals reporting that other vendors are outbidding them and offering better terms! Specifically, better effective capacity guarantee! And I thought I was working in an industry that is much more mature than 2-1/2-year-old.
Over the years, I have spent a lot of time analyzing vendor’s data reduction technologies and their marketing claims for capacity guarantees.
I’ll admit, I find many of the all-flash array (AFA) vendors’ marketing appeals to my reptilian brain: simple message, bigger, better. As a busy family man with a 2-1/2-year-old at home, of course I want a better, simpler solution to my day-to-day routine. But similar to 30 second TV Infomercials or political speeches, they offer little substance or proof. Most of their marketing narrative falls in the “cool and fuzzy” category where flash is better than disk.
So beware, you are at risk of dealing with the same childish tactics politicians use when fighting for your attention. That means being inundated with effective capacity claims of up to 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 10:1 or even 20:1. This sounds great, but I will warn you. If you are an IT buyer, short listing the AFA vendor(s) with the highest data reduction claim is not going to get you the best deal, far from it.
While effective claims get your attention, you need to dig deeper. I’ve interviewed many customers, prospects, partners and industry analysts to get their views on this topic and they all agree that the advertising seldom matches the reality. A vendor brochure will help explain the high level on how their guaranteed and technology works, but even that may not be enough.
When you compare these details, do not be surprised if these legal agreements look alike; the reality is that no vendors can change the law of physics. Actual data reduction results are defined by your data and application alone, not the vendor’s implementation!
Case in point, while AFA data reduction technology differences will drive distinct system performance attributes and response times, research has shown that a 4KB vs 8KB chunk size difference provides about 5% difference in data reduction. Consider a typical AFA solid state device has 100 micro-seconds latency, the AFA operating system has little time to do much processing without slowing down your flash.
Hitachi has introduced a 2x savings data reduction guarantee with its all-flash Virtual Storage Platform family, but why now? How is our guarantee different? In short, Hitachi recognized that CAPEX budgets are shrinking and wanted to reduce the ROI risk for new buyers when investing their limited budget. To reduce the complexities associated with this type of guarantee, we are ensuring a data reduction floor, a minimum customer can take to the bank, no questions asked, no site survey required, instead of featuring a best case scenario with conditions and file systems scan.
Industry analysts sell their services to assist with vendor contract negotiations, while this insight is free to IT buyers independent of your vendor preference. Feel free to comment. As a married man, I am reminded of my imperfection on a regular basis.