"But you named VCE as one of "2014's big names to watch in the vSAN space", so surely PureSystems would not be out of place in that list as well... right?"
Honestly, no. As I said in the article, I was highlighting those I thought would be major players. In the case of VCE or Nutanix because of raw market domination. In the case of someone like Maxta because they are fundamentally game changing via commoditisation.
If I tried to list every single CI or VSAN player it would be an ebook, not an article. There are well over 100 at last count; the whole area is growing at a level that makes me think of the mobile device management market. That's why I narrowed it to companies I think would make a bang in 2014 here.
The sad truth is, I just don't think IBM is currently very relevant here, nor do I believe they have anything innovative enough to become relevant in the future. You'll have to forgive me here, but I see IBM's PureSystems setup as a "me too" play that mostly will have negative appeal outside IBM's captive market and stands a damned good chance of having even IBM's captive clients turn to VCE or Nutanix.
As for "SVC is more than cutting a big SAN into little SANs because compression"...I must be missing something. Compression and deduplication were neat in 2006. It was right around then that this "younger, hipper feature" emerged that let people defer SAN refreshes for a cycle. Everyone of any value does this today, it's not exactly a point of differentiation. Indeed, today's deduplication is host-based flash caching: add something like Proximal Data to the host and use it's internal flash to buy you extra IOPS. Ultimately, this can save you from needing an upgrade RFN if you're at the IOPS wall: buy you a year or two to get your act together.
I don't believe there's a "dubious value" in SAN virtualisation...just that SAN virtualisation is pedestrian. I can cut a Starwind SAN into baby SANs, if I massage the interface! It's got HA, deduplication, what-have-you. The past is the past: not only is none of that special, it's commodity now.
Big Blue is many things, but it should never allow itself to become merely pedestrian. Surely a company that creates subterranean seismically-stabilized research labs in order to create atomic-resolution scanning tunnelling microscopes capable of demonstrating the strong force has more virtual confetti and storage oomph than SAN virtualisation and inline deduplication to sprinkle about the holidays!
Your point that people mix the two concepts up, however, is well taken. I really should do an article to explain the difference. It's amazing how much interest this one article has driven. I've a lot of interviews to do next year with both vendors and end users. I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings and to seeing how everything unfolds.
I've no ego in being "right" here. I called the players as I saw them and there is just as much information in being wrong as in being right. If I'm wrong, I'd have no problem saying "hey guys, IBM actually did some decent cleaning up and/or innovating in 2014!" Indeed, insert any name in place of IBM: I've no bias about winners or losers here...but no, I don't think IBM is going to make a bang in this area in 2014.
2014 is going to see the old guard fight viciously to defend their aging product lines and business models as newer, more capable companies redefine entire markets. Cisco will be fighting a noisy rearguard action against all comers; everyone from the OpenDaylight project to Juniper to IBM are pushing SDN offerings that will truncate Cisco's relevance and collapse it's market share.
Microsoft will continue to machine gun itself in booth feet while Oracle doubles down on extracting every single bent copper from it's hostages. EMC will continue to bleed market share to the likes of Nutanix and Tintri while VMware will be forced to completely reinvent their pricing model or die.
None of this will mean the death of giants in 2014...but the giants look ever so much more inflexible today than they did only a few years ago. A sea change is coming. With luck, it will not be a sudden collapse and refactoring of the market like the dot-com burst. Instead, it seems likely that the great behemoths of IT will fade slowly, going quietly into that good night over the course of the next decade or two.
But they have peaked. They have allowed themselves to become wrapped up in pride and hubris; to let innovation occur beyond their borders to an extent that is shocking. Some - like VMware - simply clone the ideas of their own "partners" (the lawsuits once the patents are granted will be hilarious good fun.) Others attempt to buy up these companies one by each and lament their failed integration as the soul-destroying corporate culture of the IT behemoth evaporates the very things that drove innovation in those startups to begin with.
There is a divide here. The staid, high-margin, enterprise-tech-driven model reliant on "services" and 4-hour engineer rollouts is meeting the world of DevOps. Like a freight train meeting a mountain.
In the new order everything is dynamic. Everything is scriptable. This new world sees 4 hours as "not nearly good enough" and requires double and triple redundancy for everything. The new world is burstable. It is programmatic. It is responsive and automated. It is built on commodity everything and change is a feature, not a bug that needs 5 months of change management to plan around.
This is the transition period. It is the time where the old school IT market starts shrinking and the vendors that supply it start winking out one by one: going bankrupt, getting bought, or leaving the market and doing something else. Oracle has proven you can dine on that for some time...but the future is being written by the likes of Puppet and OpenDaylight, not Cisco or VCE.
So, against that backdrop...why would I see PureSystems being a big player in 2014? VCE is the name enterprises and governments trust when it comes to old-school infrastructure. They'll give you a pod of stuff that Just Works and support it in a traditional enterprise fashion. All the big names are on board, it ticks all the old-school CTO paranoia boxes.
Anyone looking for futureproof IT isn't going to be looking at anything VCE like - not from VCE, IBM, Oracle or anyone else - so what chance to any of these other enterprise players have?
IBM's version of "innovation" seems to be "the all flash datacenter." That's great, if you happen to have a continent full of virgins and access to one of the three volcanos on earth with a phonolitic lake. Even for the Fortune 500 that's a bit rich. None of that, of course, addresses how one is to overcome the bottlenecks or latency issues inherent in centralized storage or the transition from North-South networking to East-West networking. (IBM does have some OpenFlow stuff that shows promise, however, it does seem to require that you have a stead supply of virgins to afford it.)
IBM is - to my mind - like the US military. It's really quite spectacularly prepared to fight the last war it was engaged in. Every now and again the R&D department vomits up something truly amazing (like the internet)...but it's the wars of right now, today, that it can't ever seem to quite win. Every now and again both will hold a "Mission Accomplished" ceremony, but disentangling real world victory from meaningless marketing mumbo jumbo designed to fool the plebes is itself a full time job.
IBM is working on hundreds of astonishing new technologies that I think will make the latter half of this decade amazing. (Some of the AI stuff begin done with WATSON, for example.) Storage, however...just isn't one of them. Yet.
Here's hoping that for all the length of that comment, I'm wrong multiple times. Life's far more interesting if you can't predict it quite right. Cheers! Have a great new year. :)