Despite working for a vendor, David Merrill has a habit of posting some very good entries full of common sense; I find myself nodding in agreement with much of what he posts. His latest couple of entries here and here had me nodding in agreement; it’s not just the vendors who are guilty of some dubious voodoo economics, I’m sure that most of us have put together business cases which if were really scrutinised, don’t really stack up.
We often talk about trying to make capital acquistions cost neutral in less than eighteen months; a reduction in Opex to offset the capital cost. Vendors are often complicit in this, as I mentioned in my previous entry, inflated maintenance costs mean that is often cheaper to refresh and take the bundled maintenance offered with a new system than to continue to pay maintenance on the legacy kit.
However, if I examine the failures that we tend to have; it is generally the moving parts which fail; you know those things which spin at speed? Yes, the spinning rust. And if there is one thing which has fallen in cost; it is spinning rust.
Okay; with the very much older disks, vendors simply can’t get new drives that small but I assume that most of you are aware that a large number of maintenance replacements are not actually new components? They can be previously failed and reconditioned components or perhaps pulled from arrays which have been migrated to the latest and greatest technology.
Maintenance in the IT industry is a fantastic example of Voodoo Economics…but hey it’s green, well they are recycling and re-using! But remember, there is a third part to that; REDUCE!
Vendors don’t have any real incentive to reduce maintenance costs; it firstly enables a constant upgrade treadmill because if you really had to evaluate the value of the new features, life would be a lot more complex but if you don’t upgrade, maintenance is a very nice and high margin activity.
Actually EMC should be thanking companies like HDS and IBM; it enables people to keep their legacy arrays around for a lot longer and hence keep paying EMC high maintenance! And no I’m not saying that EMC’s maintenance charges are especially high, there are much worse offenders out there!