back to article We three kings of Dell EMC are; bigging up storage we traverse AFA

Three top Dell execs told the earnings call that they were taking the fall in storage results seriously, were doing all they could to fix them, and that early signs were encouraging. The Dell EMC storage business had shining bright spots, with $15.3bn for the full year, the hyperconverged portfolio seeing triple-digit demand …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With EMC leadership team effectively out, storage is just a commodity for Dell

    If storage truly is a commodity, then Dell should do well in their model.

    But it could well be argued that systems like converged and hyper-converged and it's software are not commodities and these systems provide value that simple flash boxes do not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: With EMC leadership team effectively out, storage is just a commodity for Dell

      I don't think you can argue that traditional SANs are a commodity. There are multiple places where that architecture will survive - and thrive - for several more refresh cycles, even outside of unix and mainframe.

      This is not to say that HCI doesn't have its place - as does commodity server-resident storage.

      3 examples:

      Do I build an infrastructure from traditional 3-tier, or do I roll out a VSAN?

      VSAN wins hands down in many cases, but what if I have legacy applications that don't migrate, nor sit well on next gen kit? What if my storage is mucho petabytos?

      If I'm standing up a Hadoop data warehouse, do I build compute and data nodes from x86 boxen or do I put an Isilon or a NetApp on the back as the data lake? All-x86 is cheaper, no doubts, but a dedicated data lake brings certain capabilities to the table for specific use cases.

      Do I want to host my Splunk environment in HCI or should it stand alone?

      Nice to have the bare metal pure play and I save on capital costs, but containing inside HCI removes a lot of operational headaches (and costs there).

      A lot of these questions are going to depend upon the preferences of they that will maintain the gear, their biases, their budgets and the outcomes they are looking for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: With EMC leadership team effectively out, storage is just a commodity for Dell

        "vSAN wins hands down in many cases" ... google vSAN data lose ... or check out their recommendation to turn CRC checks off (which they have only just introduced) if you need any performance. vSAN is just not ready for anything that matters.

        1. baspax

          Re: With EMC leadership team effectively out, storage is just a commodity for Dell

          VSAN has terrible performance and ease of use only goes so far.

          Vmware better rewrite it fundamentally. Which they probably are, they aren't stupid.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: With EMC leadership team effectively out, storage is just a commodity for Dell

          I've visited many large corporate customers across the USA, running pretty large and significant VSAN deployments who are exceedingly happy. Many of these are tier #1 application sets.

          I think there's a place for lots of types of architectures, but let's not be naive to think that VSAN isn't ready for prime time as many implementations have been in production for multiple years, contradicting that statement.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: With EMC leadership team effectively out, storage is just a commodity for Dell

            You must be working for EMC or Vmware because it's the industry's dirty little secret that VSAN is not only slow AF but also terribly inconsistent in its IO pattern.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dell is a server vendor at heart

    and as such they believe storage is a function of the server. It's the old, failed, Sun Micro, mantra, and so expect storage at Dell to continue its current trajectory before it bottoms out. You're about 6-8 qtrs away from it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dell is a server vendor at heart

      I don't think that much money was spent to acquire EMC to carry on, business as usual.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dell is a server vendor at heart

        Cultural it's a very hard thing to change

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dell is a server vendor at heart

          Which is exactly why storage has gone to the server division and not vice versa

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dell is a server vendor at heart

      You only have to look at what happened to HP, to see that Dell are on that downwards trajectory, albeit with some slightly different dynamics.

      1. Starting with traditional post merger hubris "We are number One or Two in all our business segments. Are we not clever? What analysts?"

      2. But that's by acquisition, not organic growth. "Quick, reorg. Accelerate the layoffs"

      3. Results still not pretty "change leadership" Import new suits from Austin to Boston

      4. Yikes, Nettapp and HPE grew storage. "Focus on sales execution" read, cut some quick refresh deals.

      5. Struggling to make the debt payments, etc

      6 A few years pain. But keep repeating the above. "ah the Analysts..."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eh?

    So AFA (VMAX/Unity/SCALEIO) is up

    But Storage (VMAX/Unity/SC) with traditional disk is down.

    Well I thought that would be a natural evolution away from spinning rust and should be Welcome?

    1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      It's probably long past time to for breaking out AFA systems from non AFA.

      It maybe made some sense in the early days, especially when most of the AFA systems were somewhat unique designs.

      But it's been years since pretty much all existing array controllers/software etc support flash just fine. Makes even less sense for vendors to ship such configurations that are AFA "only", when the only reason they are AFA only are for marketing.

      I can understand not being able to put much/any spinning disk into a Violin system. But makes no sense for Dell or HP or IBM or whomever to to support disk as well.

      Maybe makes sense for the likes of Pure Storage whom I think have only ever been flash.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is implementation

    The problem I've faced with EMC as a vendor is that the implementation is nightmarish. We've suffered months-long delays waiting for units to ship, missing parts, implementation teams dragging their feet, etc. Usually the equipment works as advertised, but getting it set up in the first place is more of a headache than it seems like it should be. It seems like EMC is being squeezed on one side by specialist vendors like Pure, who are able to get a customer up and running much more quickly, and a resurgent NetApp on the other, who finally figured out how to get scale-out clustering and all-flash working. The product is more complex than what EMC offers, but it also does more, is more integrated, and my experience with implementation has been markedly superior to EMC.

    My prescription for EMC is not to pressure the salesdroids more heavily but to fix the delivery and implementation pipeline so that customers can actually get their (monstrously expensive) equipment into service.

    1. baspax

      Re: The problem is implementation

      "NetApp on the other, who finally figured out how to get scale-out clustering and all-flash working"

      Oh man, this statement really bends the truth lol

      First, it took NetApp only FOURTEEN YEARS to get Spinnaker finally working. Congrats, I guess?

      Second, "working". Working it does but scale out it is not. It's a federation, not scale-out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The problem is implementation

        Perhaps it's not true scale-out, but it's better than EMC's offerings.

      2. SPGoetze

        Re: The problem is implementation

        First off, they bought Spinnaker in 2003 and 2004 or 2005 came out with ONTAP GX. IIRC around 2008/2009 they were the first to shatter the 1 Million IOPS Mark in the SpecNFS benchmark with a 24 node ONTAP GX system (which, according to reports at that time, was not a lab queen, but deployed just like that at multiple customers). I really don't know, where you get your 14 years from...

        Second, it really depends on your definition of scale-out. It's not a shared nothing system like Solidfire, true. But if you can nondisruptively grow capacity and performance, e.g. using FlexGroups up to 20+ PetaBytes and 400+ billion files in a single namespace, by adding controller pairs, that's scale-out to me. In the end it's not about semantics, but about customer outcomes. And again, NetApp has a history of doing things differently (I remember "that's not a real SAN, they have a file layout underneath" from ~2009).

        (Not a NetApp employee, I just teach storage for a long time...)

        1. baspax

          Re: The problem is implementation

          What is scale out to you is pretty much useless because what you describe is a single namespace with individual controller pairs, a federation.

          NetApp has no scale out besides SolidFire. That on the other hand is superb.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So if this crap is so expensive?

    Why would i not lift an shift this crap to the cloud?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So if this crap is so expensive?

      because the cloud is more expensive?

    2. WYSIWYG650

      Re: So if this crap is so expensive?

      The cloud is not cheaper in most cases and in very large environments it can be quite a bit more, just ask Dropbox. The cloud gives you agility and additional capability and that is the value and you pay a premium for it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EMC's problem is that most of their technology is really old. VMAX is a great example of that. I dont understand how anyone would invest in technology that is effectively old wine on new bottles and pay over the odds for it. I think they were hoping for a greater transition to HCI, and underestimated the importance of the puclic Cloud, so the competition is fierce. All the talk in the press about VMware taking Dell public is a sign that the rot has started. Investors are seeing the writing on the wall and understandably want to cash in sooner rather than later.

  7. SniperPenguin

    Dells issue is that their storage is cheap, but OLD.

    SCxxxx = Compellent with a new bezel

    UNITY = VNXe with a new bezel

    Equalogic = Still available, but effectively dead

    They are riding the coat-tails of Nutanix and vSAN to win in the HCI space (not a bad strategy, to be fair) but historically they have unintentionally killed off any software they have purchased

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seriously? Coattails of VSAN?

      Dell EMC IS VSAN.

      Your comment is ridiculous.

  8. WYSIWYG650

    I dont think this comment in the article is true"NetApp is making hay upgrading its base to all-flash FAS. It has no equivalent of Data Domain, Data Protection Suite nor software-defined storage products, and its object stuff appears to be doing OK." To compete with Data Domain, NetApp has Alta Vault cloud caching, native cloud partnerships, and is working on DP Suite to allow single file restore from the cloud. they also have snap/clone/mirror that seamlessly integrates with all the key players for a single pain of glass DP management with actual cloud support. Dell/EMC has no cloud support unless you count VMWare inside of AWS and everyone uses that so it is not unique to them. We all know cloud is a large part of DP and Del/EMC are still in the 90's with their technology.

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