Breaking eggs, making omelets and keeping up with customer demand.
When I started at HDS – it feels like yesterday, but it was almost 2 years ago – I had one of those ‘fall out of your chair’ moments. Not because I was given a corner office in Manhattan but because I saw all of the cool flash technology HDS had / was developing. In my mind, all the pieces for a fantastic all-flash business were there – especially the FMDs! – they just needed to be rolled out.
And that’s what we’ve been doing. We delivered our first all-flash array (AFA), the VSP F series, built on Hitachi’s custom flash modules (FMDs) with the only 100% data availability guarantee and the ability to offload data reduction to 100s, even 1000s of extra processing cores for better long term performance than any other AFA. We rolled out our entry AFA the HFS A series with great performance in a dense form factor. And we just announced major upgrades to SVOS and our VSP F series including adaptive data reduction, powerful cloud integration and the biggest, baddest all-flash platform for high-end enterprise.
That’s a lot of all-flash in under 2 years, but it really just gets us started. We have more cards to play (hurry up engineering & services).
With that said, every launch creates an opportunity for reflection. An opportunity to refocus and decide if you have the right mix of offerings to keep customers happy, attack new markets and accelerate development. If not, it’s time to adjust the strategy. Adjusting strategy is tough and many companies ‘kick the can down the road,’ hoping a change won’t be needed. Why? Because adjusting your go to market strategy is a bit like making an omelet. You have to break some eggs (kill / de-invest in products) to deliver the omelet (strategy) that serves customer needs. If you don’t you may wake up one morning and find yourself out of synch with the market or worse, irrelevant to customers.
Unfortunately, breaking eggs can be hard for leaders to accept, especially if the product is well loved or new.
Wait, what? New? How is it possible that a new offering developed by a company isn’t perfectly positioned to be the future of the company and displace existing ones?
It depends, but there are 3 common reasons: price, time to market (especially for features you had on your existing offering that customers loved) and demand. If any one of these is out of alignment with customer demand then an offering – even brand new ones – may falter. History is full of examples of this and every vendor owns intellectual property (IP) because of it.
The recent introduction of SVOS 7 provides a perfect example of how this can happen. With SVOS 7 and our FMDs we are able to deduplicate and compress data, delivering capacity savings that match what every AFA product can deliver. Add in our FMDs and quality of service (QoS) technology and we can offer these savings while enabling more predictable performance than competitors.
The end result is that we’ve created a power house that makes the HFS A series, unnecessary. Our original objective with the HFS A series was to deliver an entry, all-flash array that could serve as a “starter platform” for transitioning to an all-flash data center. It offered deduplication and QoS functions critical for the entry segment of the all-flash array market.
This was great, but 2 things became apparent with the release of SVOS 7. First, we could meet the objectives (and price points) of HFS A series with VSP F series. Two, customers that were considering HFS A series wanted a roadmap that looked nearly identical to what we are already shipping on VSP F series!
So as of today, we’ve made the decision to announce the end of sales for the HFS A series. It hasn’t been an easy decision to make, but ultimately we feel it is the right one if we want to accelerate development (why have 2 dev efforts for the same functions) and meet customer demands - today.
This doesn't mean we’ll stop innovating or trying out new features, functions and offerings (new eggs) – it just means that we need to keep adjusting our thinking so we maximize the benefit we deliver to customers. Because if we don't continue to refine the omelet we deliver, we may not meet customers’ needs.
This is the kind of decision which helps us ensure that HDS will be there to support you today as well as tomorrow.