HDS’ Hu makes a point in his latest blog entry in that Storage Virtualisation allows the end-user to turn commodity disk into enterprise disk by sticking it behind a virtualisation appliance; in Hu’s case, he’d deeply love that to be USP.
I think in many ways his idea gets to the core about what might have gone wrong with the storage industry; we are paying too much for the commodity bit of the storage i.e the spinning stuff!!
But is what Hu is talking about truly virtualisation? Arguably not! What HDS do and what IBM do with SVC is more loosely couple the array controller with the disk at the back-end. USP and SVC are simply array controllers. Storage virtualisation actually is not really that clever, the USP and SVC may have some fantastic code in but they are “simply” array controllers. And yes they have to deal with the vagaries of FC implementation across many different back-end disks and EMC would probably argue ‘more fool them’.
So perhaps if instead of selling Virtualisation; IBM and HDS simply sold array controllers and said, ‘You can buy your disk from us, EMC or whoever is giving the best deal today’ and didn’t make it out to be some mystical and magical thing; they might get more acceptance.
It actually changes the nature of conversation somewhat, end-users could then go back to EMC et al and ask the question, ‘What makes your back-end disk so special? Why can’t I just buy the directors and put what ever disk I like behind it?’.
I think the discussion becomes a lot less philosophical and a lot more pragmatic if this approach is taken. I know EMC have answers as to why their back-end disk is special but perhaps you should ask the question also. We can get down to talking about each storage array’s USP…no pun intended!