If those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, you should pay close attention to Dell’s latest announcements. Sure, the press releases might sound exciting, but underneath under the hood there’s really nothing new. There’s nothing innovative. The reality is that they’re still struggling with the burden of integration with EMC and are focused on recovering from their “debt hangover.”
To fully understand what Dell is up to, I sat down with my colleague Chris Merz. As a principal technologist for NetApp, Chris’s job is to understand everything going on in the technology market. He’s been around a while (before the cloud was born!) and knows a thing or two, because he’s seen a thing or two.
Here’s our conversation about Dell’s recent announcements.
Chris, on their website, Dell claims that “the future of storage is here,” which implies innovation. How do they back that up? To answer this question, we have to rewind about 10 years when Dell EMC’s XtremeIO tried to go head to head with NetApp® SolidFire® (the scale-out foundation of NetApp HCI). They added flash drives and duct-tape “scale-out” to a dual controller and shelf architecture and called it innovation. They designed it poorly, rushed it to market, and inflated market share by giving one away with every refresh deal. XtremeIO has since largely failed. It was complex, risky, and too slow to adapt to survive the Great Dell Portfolio Purge, which we can all see is upon us. So, basically, the future that they are touting is about 10 years late with PowerStore.
Portfolio Purge? Tell more. As we’ve heard in the recent Dell announcements and launches, they intend to consolidate their midrange customer base onto the just released (1.0) PowerStore platform. This leaves what — five disparate storage operating systems that have to be migrated? Thousands upon thousands of their “more customers choose Dell” are now being forced to absorb the OpEx (and CapEx!) of a forced platform migration, just for the privilege of remaining a Dell customer? Not to mention that Dell is asking customers to trust this (mandatory) spankin’new storage platform with the beating heart of their enterprises? SAP, core database workloads, business intelligence analytics, critical sensitive customer information. No thanks. Data of that value must reside on systems that are built for the future, integrated, tried, and trusted.
Ah, so when Dell says “built from the ground up,” what they really mean is that they want customers to migrate workloads to a v1 platform. If it’s time to replatform, it sounds like a good time to explore options. Customers need to make sure to partner with a company that can take them into the future. What does the future look like, and what do customers need to consider? Well, as we’ve all been quite harshly reminded this year, the future is entirely cloudy, and I mean that in the somber sense, as well as the tongue-in-cheek sense. Volatility, uncertainty, and interruptions require us to be flexible, creative, and adaptive in how we do business. The advent of the cloud has given us myriad tools to build global architectures that most organizations didn’t have access to before. However, when you’ve been your own data center and service provider, sometimes for decades, integrating with the public cloud isn’t as straightforward as it is for, say, a startup or newer venture.
NetApp has spent the last decade innovating for the future of global enterprise and government IT. We help customers design and build their data fabric with a full range of tier 1 public cloud services, all connected to the data center. We partner with our customers to build their bridge to the future (cue angelic music and light). But, seriously, what is Dell’s cloud strategy offering to you? PowerStore vMotion to VxRail vMotion to the VMware Cloud in AWS? From what they stated at launch, that’s their core cloud story. A bit limiting, don’t you think? Also, many folks don’t know this, but Dell EMC owns VMware, and thus the VMware Cloud ... how many nested layers of license fees is that?
To Summarize The people who will benefit most from a healthy competition between NetApp and Dell are our customers. It’s up to you to decide which type of leadership you would like to align your business with: a company dedicated to bringing innovative solutions to market with focus and precision, or a company who has shown true success growing their business quickly through innovative financial engineering. Remember, you do have a choice. Visit our website to learn more.
Beth is the Market Strategist for DevOps. With over 15 years of experience in a variety of dynamic industries including media, technology, and private equity; the through line has been a passion for delivering innovative technology solutions that transform the customer experience. Beth is a data driven, strategic thinker who excels at breaking a big vision down into an actionable plan. At NetApp, Beth enjoys helping customers understand how their IT strategy is critical to achieving business outcomes. Outside of work she can be found on the ski slopes or a yoga mat.
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