So lately I’ve been working mostly with IT Manufacturers and Vendors. When you are representing a technology manufacturer all you have is the products they sell… no matter what the business problem, technical problem, budget, need, the answer always is product X. I’ve been lucky to have worked with some of the most cutting edge and disruptive products on the market, so customers have wanted them either because they were the right fit, they were the fastest, most reliable, highest performing product, or because it was all we had to offer. There were also the cases of absolutely none of the prior, they just wanted to play with the newest shiny bobble.
For several periods of my career, I’ve been in the unique position to talk about the business of a client. What are the issues that are keeping them from being agile, stopping them doubling in revenue, what could be changed to increase profitability? The details that are usually important to every executive board across industries. The amazing thing, when looking at making a large technology purchase, the IT Director and below usually ignore the business needs for a solution, but instead get caught up in features, speeds and feeds, and price. The shiny new storage widget that will never be implemented, but makes storage Vendor X stand-out this month becomes a critical decision point. Let’s be honest, in most cases, IT at a company is a cost of doing business.
I was recently in front of a local IT team that currently has NetApp deployed. They had been sold on the idea of SSD as the cool technology. They were in middle of making a rather large (for them) storage purchase. They run FCP LUNs to VMFS from a NetApp clustered pair, and were almost completely out of SATA storage and they were experiencing performance issues. The vendor solution was sell them more storage, and disregard looking at what they have stored where, sell them on FlexPools and FlexCache as well, that will resolve and performance issues they are having.
Fast forward a few weeks…there were no performance issues other than misconfiguration and following bad practices. With a little more storage, implementation of NFS (of course NFS< why on earth would you want to continue the complexity of FCP on NetApp, especially when you’ve already put in place 10Gb Ethernet…a topic I will revisit at another time), and some best practices…HAPPY CLIENT! In the end, a relatively small IT staff was really looking for a way to free up time spent on operations and maintenance in order to spend time deploying new applications to make the company more agile.
This brings me back to the original thought, attacking the IT group with business logic and justifications. I’m a geek at heart, I like the latest and greatest technologies. For most of my career I’ve taken large personal risks working with and for early stage start-ups, that was my choice. The typical CTO doesn’t have the option of playing with a science project, they need technologies that are proven and reliable. Technologies should be implemented to further the business, not to scratch a technology itch. The above company got sold on the shiny bobble called SSD, when in reality they might never need SSD technology…ever. For the record, that doesn’t make them less of a company.
- Agile Storage Comes to Amazon’s Cloud (communities.netapp.com)
- “A Little Bit of Flash Goes a Long Way…”: Bye-Bye Automated Storage Tiering (communities.netapp.com)
- NetApp in the News, 12/3/12 (communities.netapp.com)
- Convergent.io Predictions: 2013 – The Year Enterprise Storage becomes more, not less Confusing (vmblog.com)
- Storage QoS In The Cloud (architecting.it)