‘Overhyped marketing myths’ - Extreme reactions to a flash storage upgrade

Storage

by Duncan MacRae| 29 July 2014

Changes to EMC’s flash array prompted accusations of ‘overhyped marketing myths’ that ‘bamboozle’ and ‘don’t live up to expectations’ - and an interesting exchange on flash for VDi installations.

It's not every day that a storage product upgrade prompts a strong response, but that's just what happened recently when EMC added some functions to its XtremIO all flash range.

Gavin McLaughlin, VP, worldwide marketing, XIO, waded in saying: "UK businesses are being bamboozled by overhyped marketing myths about the performance, reliability and power consumption of all-flash storage arrays, despite practical evidence and common-sense arguments to the contrary.

"The announcement from EMC that it is releasing major XtremIO upgrades is yet another classic example of a storage vendor over-hyping and exaggerating the role of flash in the enterprise.

"Adding a load of new features to bamboozle the industry doesn't cover up the poor efficiency statistics of its product (both in terms of power utilisation and price/performance statistics).

"It's also very easy offer warranties on individual parts of the system, when there is still a Neolithic three year warranty on the actual array. Is that because EMC recognize that the implementation of flash in their product will require a swap out at some point potentially causing downtime and disruption to users?

"The truth is that at the moment too many flash array vendors are promising the world but just not living up to expectations. Over the last few months X-IO have seen a significant increase in users approaching us through our Emergency Response program to fix their VDI implementations when all-flash arrays haven't delivered. Vendors needs to understand that customers are getting sick and tired of false promises, they just simply want more truth in storage and less marketing hype"

EMC

We put McLaughlin's points to EMC.

"This latest release of EMC XtremIO is aimed very simply at meeting and exceeding what our customers are actively demanding. There is no 'smoke and mirrors' here. EMC's customers are relishing the performance and scope that XtremIO offers them - as demonstrated by the fact that this is the fastest-growing piece of the portfolio in EMC's history, and possibly the industry's fastest-growing array of all time...Don't take it from us - look at how our customers are adopting it! As customer endorsements go, $100m of sales in the first six months of this solution being available is very compelling," an EMC spokesman said.

HP

We also put McLaughlin's final point to HP, asking them to comment on his views about false promises particularly in the VDi space.

James Hall, EMEA pre-sales strategist 3Par Hp Storage, said: "I have a few views on this statement. Firstly flash is not the reason things don't work correctly. The issue is not everything is designed to work with flash. Therefore we put something on flash, expect it to go fast and it doesn't, that is not the fault of flash. It is typically [the fault of] the design of the application or database. Application design, database design and access need to change for flash to deliver against its full potential just like it did when shared spinning drives became affordable.

"Most VDi installations fail because of a poor overall design and under estimated performance requirements not because flash has failed to deliver. Perhaps the flash has been undersized, or it has been used in the wrong place i.e. server flash instead of shared array flash or vice versa. A well scoped and understood VDI solution/requirement should not fail because flash has failed to deliver on its promise.

"Where flash doesn't always work is large sequential read and or write workloads or workloads with large IO size, in these instances disk may well outperform or perform the same as flash.

"The key to deploying flash successfully is to fully understand the requirement, workload and application landscape before designing and implementing the solution. Small start-ups fail here because they don't have the professional services and consulting expertise to get this element nailed down. This is where the larger more established vendors can provide customers with value and experience."

Pure Storage

Luanne Dauber, VP corporate/field marketing, Pure Storage, said: "Every major research firm agrees that VDI is a primary driver in enterprise adoption of all-flash storage. It is currently one of the leading use cases that brings customers to Pure Storage, predominantly because it is a performance-intensive workload in an area where budgets are typically under significant scrutiny and cost control.

"Once our customers get started with VDI, they typically find that they have enough performance and capacity in reserve to expand to other applications in their environment, like MS Exchange, SQL, Oracle or MongoDB databases, and any number of virtual servers. And a majority become repeat customers, ultimately choosing to expand their deployment, adding more FlashArrays to their data centres.

"Pure Storage customers are overwhelmingly satisfied with the performance, efficiency, simplicity and quality of the user experience FlashArray delivers for VDI and beyond, as evidenced both by the addition of more workloads to their arrays, as well as by our outstanding user satisfaction scores, lying consistently above 90% in every market and region."

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