With EMC world this week, there was the usual plethora of storage announcements from both EMC as well as others trying to co-opt the news cycle.

One thing struck me in particular – the complexity of it all… It seems like every new product won’t actually replace anything, you ‘must simply’ add it onto the mountain of stuff you already own.

I especially loved those presentation slides that portray how you could take all of your old gear and then buy more stuff and add some new flash stuff and new data management stuff and then “federate” your new and old stuff -- all to get to a simple nirvana. This is usually labeled “software defined.”

Of course this has nothing to do with simple. It does have everything to do with trying to maintain a large profitable revenue stream using micro-specialized hardware and software. To me it is like trying to make a building taller without changing the foundation. It works great until it collapses.

The reason public clouds like AWS and so many SaaS services are crushing it is simple; they don’t start with all the legacy stuff. Simplicity, efficiency and cost effectiveness will never be born from complex “federations.”

Take Apple for example; when they built the iPhone, they basically included free iPod functionality. They knew this move would cannibalize the iPod, but it was better for them to do this, then to have someone else come in and do it to them.  Clearly, this methodology has not been practiced in the storage industry (by large companies or even startups) for a long time.

If Apple were to build products like we see in the storage industry, we would all be wearing very large belts to carry our twenty different devices.  So, when you hear nice sounding words like “federation,” “legacy compatible,” and “software defined,” ask the question – “Is this solution really better, simpler, and less expensive?” 

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