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Multi-vendor Storage

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Reading Chuck’s blog during my vacation, I stopped on his comment that multi-vendor environments are on the decline due to their complexity and the hassle of dealing with multiple vendors.

I have to say that firstly, I don’t believe this and secondly and companies with large storage environments would be mad not to consider a multi-vendor setup.

The reasons people have problems with multi-vendor environments are because they don’t spend time turning their storage into a commodity. EMC and HDS both recommend their own LUN sizes; each will sell you their management solutions; each will have their own support matrices.

But these things can and should be standardised. It is a simple task to define and migrate to consistent LUN sizes, regardless of vendor hardware. Software tools can be simplified; most people choose use command line or the basic configuration tools rather than the bloated EMC tools, so no problem there. In addition, scripting can be developed for failover and PIT/Snapshot management, making their use generic across vendors. Finally, driver/firmware/HBA/fabric standards can all be established to converge on a common set across all storage vendors.

Once storage has been established as a commodity, any new purchases can come from any of the vendors in your multi-vendor strategy.

Oh and one last thought; do you really believe HDS, IBM and EMC would give you the absolute best price if they know you can only use their product on most of your server farm environment? Competition within the storage market is a false premise; moving to another hardware platform to replace an existing one takes months (in some cases years). Vendors know that customers’ threats to move everything to another platform are only hollow unless you have a true multi-vendor strategy.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • the storage anarchist

    OK – I won’t argue your point about the sanity of a single-vendor strategy.

    But in a world where IT itself is being commoditized and the Purchasing Dept. is making decisions based on price per pound instead of realizable value, things might be getting a little tight. It is inarguable that IT budgets are being shrunk on an annual basis (not flattened – shrunk).

    So I think that you have to admit, some shops are likely to run the math and decide that their budgets no longer afford them the option of switching vendors (and all the associated infrastructure expenses that goes along with such a change).

    It may not be preferred, or even sane, but many customers will indeed choose to stick with their primary storage vendor, much for the same reasons that they stay with the same server vendor (even though UNIX levelled the playing field): it simply costs too much to maintain multiple different environments. Vendor consolidation is frequently the most cost-effective alternative.

    Of course, this doesn’t give the storage vendor carte blanche to charge whatever they want – nor is that necessarily the inevitable outcome of a single-vendor strategy, as is evidenced by the highly competitive server pricing that customers enjoy today.

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but Chuck might not be wrong, either.

  • BarryWhyte

    I have to whole heartedly agree with Chris here.

    Storage is, can and should be a commodity. There is no longer a reason to stick to just one vendor and rely on them to provide everything.

    Thats maybe not the whole point but ONE OF THE MAJOR REASONS for Storage Virtualization!!!

    EMC will not admit it, ever, or not until they have a Virtualization solution that works and can provide even half the functionality of SVC.

    Commoditization of atorage was one of the #1 design points of SVC.rh

  • Xhost

    SVC is a crap Linux box slowing down hosts and storage devices. Real virtualization is HDS solution external storage…

  • Xhost

    SVC is a crap Linux box slowing down hosts and storage devices. Real virtualization is HDS solution external storage…

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