Friday, 2 April 2010

Federated Storage Arrays... Really? Shouldnt we just call it storage virtualisation?

I hate the term... Federated Storage Arrays... Lets get over the rebranding excersize its "storage virtualisation"... I really dont get why this rebrand has happened, or maybe what i really mean why bother with the effort to hide a FUBAR on previous product that just didnt cut it.. .. Is this about "we invented it here" syndrome, and we dont want to own up to the fact that we got it wrong the first time round??? I THINK SO!

I wish us end-users / consumers of technology would be given a bit of credit, and vendors realise we do actually have brains, we do understand how stuff could / will work and we can spot when a rebranding excersize has happened because of pants product.

So why is the re-brand happening??? My view- its just to try and make us forget that the previous product that tried to achieve said piece of funtionality was just out-and-out crap, and vendor didnt want to own up to the fact that the competition had approaches that worked and scaled...

If i come up with an idea and it goes wrong - generally i own up to it- and say "I got it wrong" - why can vendors not do the same thing, credit us with having some level of intelligence and stop crafting stories about how this new wondeful thing is a different and advanced approach / paradigm shift or what ever funky marketing term can be crafted...



  1. OK, so you have a point.

    But perhaps the term "federation" has a rather significantly different meaning than does "storage virtualization"...specifically, that federation enables the relocation of LUNs across arrays (or virtualization appliances/arrays) *without* the need for an added layer of virtualization in the I/O stack.

    Might not something that can enable a non-disruptive tech refresh between two arrays without requiring additional hardware or software in the I/O stack warrant perhaps a new name?

    Stay tuned!

  2. I guess it depends on the very definition of virtualisation - if things are truely virtualised, non-disruptive upgrades, mobility of lun's / tech refresh etc etc just become a function - I guess back to my original comment - it is just a play on words and definitions... any type of federation / virtualisation / what ever you want to call it is a level of complexity that is being added (IMHO)

  3. StuiSav, skepticism directed at vendor messages is always smart. We are always trying to figure out how to make people believe our sandwiches are actually banquets. The only reality check we ever get is looking back on something in the past and seeing if it actually worked anything like the spin said it would.

    I'm saying storage federation will be important based on personal history. EqualLogic's storage has always been federated by necessity - they have a distributed volume manager that requires it - and I know from working with it and talking with customers how much easier it made migrations. A distributed volume manager (DSM) has certain scalability weaknesses, but a DSM is not a requirement for federation. Federated storage makes data migrations almost effortless and almost all EqualLogic customers that have used it would agree with me. Of course, EqualLogic/Dell doesn't use the term much in their messaging - and I didn't either when I was blogging there. Very few knew what it was then - and the number hasn't increased much since then, but if EMC wants to educate the market, then there is a good chance that EMC and it's fanboys will have some success - making it easier for the rest of us.

    The downside of federation is that it can lock customers in more. It's not a painful lockin insofar that it makes it easier to migrate within a product than it does to migrate to other products. It shouldn't add more work and pain, but of course, that's a matter of implementation.

    The problem with the word virtualization is that it means so many things in storage. Virtualization can be anything from RAID to management interface. Hopefully federation will be more narrowly defined than that - to mean something like "transparency of the storage system where data resides".

  4. So your last paragraph is excatly what I am talking about. Vendors need to define what they mean when they talk about federation.... why should the customer be left guessing what he / she may think they are getting with storage federation. Lets stop the guessing and start defining. Finally in the same way that virtualisation has now become all things to all people - what is to stop the term federation being used in the same manner... Federation of machines, federation of databases etc etc etc... The guys that define this clearly and exactly will do well...

  5. and finally (to finish off) why do the vendors not just tell us EXACTLY what they intend on building, define it clearly and be judged on it..

    Turn things into an exact science - and then spin cannot happen BUT the vendors do need to deliver EXACTLY based in a clear and concise SPECIFICATION and let the customer be the ultimate judge on the product based on the product specification - of course it had better meet the mark!

  6. As you said,"It had better meet the mark." Therein lies the problem with your desire to get specs. A satisfactory measurement is only attainable through perfect execution. Ashes ashes, we all fall down!