* Posts by Mark Burgess

8 posts • joined 7 Feb 2015

NetApp cackles as cheaper FlashRay lurches out of the door

Mark Burgess

I think this is a significant move by NetApp but only time will tell

From what I have seen the pricing on AFF substantially undercuts the other premium AFAs from the likes of Pure and XtremIO when you compare like for like performance and real-world usable capacity.

There is also no question that AFF and in particular an AFF/Hybrid FAS cluster provides a range of features that neither Pure, XtremIO, or any other start-up AFA vendor can come close to matching.

I have gone into a lot more detail at http://blog.snsltd.co.uk/netapp-has-just-made-2015-the-year-of-the-affordable-all-flash-array-part-1/

I really do not see how this announcement from NetApp is anything but positive news for the customer and is likely to result in downward price pressure on all AFAs.

VMware doubles node count for EVO:RAIL hyperconvergenceware

Mark Burgess

VMware changes EVO:RAIL licensing but still gets it all wrong


I would be interested to know if anyone has anything positive to say about EVO:RAIL, not technically but commercially - it just looks like a solution that is very poor value for money that VMware will continue to tweak (the commercials) until eventually customers see value in. More thoughts at http://blog.snsltd.co.uk/vmware-changes-evorail-licensing-but-still-gets-it-all-wrong/



NetApp's customers resisting Clustered ONTAP transition

Mark Burgess

Re: Netapp pricing

Clearly cDOT is a powerful product that I think most people on this thread seem to agree has a greater range of capabilities than anything else available. Therefore it is never going to win a contest as the simplest storage platform to deploy - if you want that deploy E-Series which is clearly designed to be the polar opposite of FAS.

Also it sounds to me like some of your comments are based on legacy technology rather than the latest versions (i.e. 7MTT is free and so is Performance Manager, and costs have come down from what I have seen).

What do you mean by "design around limitations and various rules"?

It is very easy to criticise the likes of NetApp, but who do you think is doing a better job in storage, both technically and commercially?

I do not think you can count the start-ups as they have a fraction of the turnover of NetApp and they do not make a profit from what I see (i.e. they are subsidised by VCs).

EMC is the commercial leader, but outside of the enterprise market (i.e. with VMAX and Isilon) I struggle to see how they have a better technology story than NetApp and talk about complex as every requirement has to have its own product - to do what FAS does you would need VNX, Isilon, XtremIO, Data Domain and Avamar/NetWorker - suddenly FAS is actually looking pretty easy to deploy/manage and cost-effective.

Mark Burgess

The storage market is very tough for everyone

The market is incredibly competitive, on top of that you have customers leveraging the cloud and also sweating their assets for longer - the net result is all the major vendors core products are down on revenue.

With regard to price I think it is absolutely true that NetApp was too expensive, but this was due to the lack of competition. I think you would say the same about the other four big players (EMC, HP, IBM and HDS).

This is no longer sustainable and I think NetApp has responded with significantly better value for money solutions - take a look at http://snsltd.co.uk/promotions/ for some examples.

I also think NetApp are in a decent place regarding cDOT as they have now finally "killed off" 7-mode.

Is there another storage platform out their that can match the capabilities of FAS? I don't think so, but I would be pleased to be proved wrong.

Comparing EMC's mid-market portfolio to FAS does not look good for EMC - I even wrote a blog about it at http://blog.snsltd.co.uk/is-there-another-storage-platform-as-feature-rich-as-netapp-fas/

Is FAS perfect? Absolutely not, there is huge room for improvement, but I still think it is better than anything else out there when it comes to its range of capabilities.

VMware makes vSphere licences portable to crimp EVO:RAIL costs

Mark Burgess

VMware changes EVO:RAIL licensing but still gets it all wrong

Does anyone know what VMware's strategy is around EVO:RAIL?

They seem to have got it all wrong with the initial release of the product and this change does not really resolve the huge commercial problems it has - they must know this so I wonder what their ultimate plan is.

I have more thoughts on the subject at http://blog.snsltd.co.uk/vmware-changes-evorail-licensing-but-still-gets-it-all-wrong/

ONTAP isn't putting NetApp ONTOP

Mark Burgess

Clearly the entire market is getting more competitive, 5 years ago one of the big six (EMC, NetApp, HP, IBM, HDS and Dell) was the only real choice for most organisations. Today the market is much tougher - you have to add at least half a dozen start-up vendors to this list, some workloads are moving to the cloud and there are shrinking budgets since the recession.

The net result is that it is far more difficult for the likes of NetApp and EMC to sell their products and there is also downward pressure on margins. EMC's answer has been to acquire additional products (Data Domain, Isilon and XtremIO) which in the short-term increases their revenue, but does result in a single product for every use case. I do not believe that it is sustainable outside of the enterprise space and because they have so many products their "Swiss army knife" mid-market solution the VNX currently looks very "long in the tooth" compared to FAS. I would assume that sales of the VNX over this period have gone down much further than FAS.

The start-ups have done well by focusing on price, performance and simplicity, but they have two problems:

1. They do not make any money, as they are subsidised by VCs, so their business model is not sustainable (unless they are acquired which is their objective)

2. They cannot match the features and use cases that FAS or the EMC portfolio can

There is no doubt that NetApp has gone through a lot of pain moving from 7-Mode to Clustered Data ONTAP and that has put them back a few years, but at least they have now come through that and they have a platform that they can build on over the next decade - if only EMC put the same investment into their existing products rather than focusing on acquisitions.

For me what NetApp needs to do is focus on simplicity and affordable converged infrastructures - this is not FlexPod with Cisco UCS, but FlexPod with simple commodity servers at a price that is affordable to almost any sized organisation.

As for FlashRay personally I would rather see the IP that has gone into it ported into FAS and E-Series and I am sure we will at least partially see that. As far as I know FlashRay is in no way a ground-up flash design and instead it is a massively optimised version of ONTAP - which is no bad thing as "ground-up designed for flash" is just marketing. Today the EF series can easily hold its own from a price performance point of view with the likes of the EMC VNX-F and the All-Flash FAS with XtremIO and Pure - I really believe that outside of the enterprise space the ground-up All-Flash array is no longer sustainable.

Ultimately what we need is:

1. The fewest number of platforms to support all use cases

2. Ease of deployment and management

3. Value for money at point of purchase, additions and upgrades with list prices that are not massively over inflated

NetApp is in as good a position if not better than any of the start-ups and the market leader EMC to deliver on the above.

It will be interesting to see how all this pans out in the next few years - at the end of the day all we can do is just make our best guess possible.

I wrote a lot more about all of this at:




Storage BLOG-OFF: HP's Johnson squares up to EMC's Chad Sakac

Mark Burgess


For me the "pure" all-flash array is just not sustainable and I think the industry needs to get away from the thinking that there is something "magical" about an AFA - that is just marketing.

At the end of the day it is just hardware and software - I see no reason why a company who focuses on a small number of storage platforms cannot overtime optimise their platforms to work optimally with flash and HDDs - that way we avoid silos.

The problem for the vendors that have "pure" AFAs, that have no support for HDDs, is that they have no motivation to optimise their hybrid arrays as their strategy is all about claiming that a "pure" AFA is in some way special.

The traditional hybrid arrays will continue to get further optimised for flash over the next few years and we will reach a point whereby products like Violin, Pure, XtremIO, etc. will just not make sense.

I would just love for a "pure" AFA vendor to explain what their product does that a hybrid array like 3PAR, VNX and FAS cannot do (either now or overtime) - certainly we all agree there is a whole bunch of things a hybrid array can do that an AFA can not.

Will it be quicker for an AFA to have all the features of a established hybrid platform or the other way around?

Based on the current trajectory I would say the established hybrid platforms will catch up with the AFAs first and I do not think that will be far way.

Just my view of course and I might be proved completely wrong - only time will tell.

I wrote a detailed blog on this subject over at http://blog.snsltd.co.uk/does-the-all-flash-array-really-make-sense/ recently.

Best regards


Nutanix is out in front - but can it stay ahead of the burgeoning pack?

Mark Burgess


For me VMware has a great opportunity with EVO:RAIL to massively damage Nutanix, I sure by the end of the year we will have de-dupe and compression and therefore the technical lead that undoubtedly Nutanix has will more or less have gone.

The problem is with the way EVO:RAIL is packaged VMware are not doing themselves any favours:

1. Why are the licences tied to the hardware?

2. Why are the licences Ent+?

3. Why can we not upgrade one node at a time?

4. Why can we not have different disk specifications/upgrade them?

5. Why such low end hardware (i.e. 6 core CPUs)?

More thoughts over at http://blog.snsltd.co.uk/vmware-evorail-or-vsan-which-makes-the-most-sense/

Best regards


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