Alright, landed safe in Prague and was picked up by one of my colleagues and whisked away to the IBM office. There we did an interview with Czech writer Martin Noska from Computerworld for IDG in Czech Republic. The first Noska informed me was that IBM is the number one in storage sales in Czech Republic (just like Poland!). He also had some very good questions and he with “What are IBM’s biggest challenges in the storage business”? I had thought about this for a while and I would have to say it is really about marketing our storage “solutions” to the customer base. IBM is a double edge sword. IBM is so big and has so many products it becomes difficult to market or message all of our products without inundating all of our customers and confusing them. If you think about it, IBM has hundreds of thousands of customers and business partners, if not more. This is one of our strengths. When customers have needs or requirements we have very good input into our product portfolio, perhaps the best in the business. Combine this with the fact that IBM has not only storage solutions but technology across the entire stack from servers to networking. So when it comes to developing the right technology, that solves real customer problems, I would argue that IBM’s portfolio is the best in the business. IBM takes an extreme amount of care when developing a solution to ensure that it matches the customer requirements based on the changing needs of IT. Having an integrated portfolio that works well with our ISV partners, VMware for example, allows us to help customers speed their time to ROI and be very competitive in the market place. The challenge is, how do we properly message our new solutions to our customers, in a timely manner so that they are well aware of new products without giving them too much information such that it just becomes noise? It is difficult to say the least.
The interview went very well. There were questions about tape, where we discussed the advantages of IBM’s LFTS technology for more advanced tape usage, we discussed the direction data deduplication will go as well. Noska’s view was that there hadn’t been any advancement in data deduplication in the last 5 years. I told him that for secondary storage, backup, that he is right, I also told him that the real advancement to deduplication will come when it is ready for primary storage. Today deduplication isn’t ready for primary, but it will be soon.
On Monday the 13th we traveled to visit Avnet. They are a great IBM partner. Like most partners they have a very large SMB install base and also like a lot of SMB feedback I have been getting, they are looking for a building block solution that has all of the software features implemented as a part of the stack. SMB and Enterprise alike are starting to realize that the value in any array is becoming the software stack that makes the hardware, efficient, optimized, flexible, and dynamic. IT’s job continues to get more and more challenging with developing strategic initiatives for the business to make them more competitive and it is the job of the vendor to make sure these solutions are as optimized and cost effective as possible.
We also visited DHL. These guys have one of the greatest datacenters I have ever visited. They are very advanced and push a lot of data. The do some very strategic logistics for a number of companies in Europe and Asia. They, like many others have a number of challenges. Since my blog post about “The 5 Most Interesting things at VMworld” (#4) I heard something very interesting today. I asked “What is your most challenging storage issue”? He told me that storage was not is “most difficult” challenge. Storage efficiency was important to him in order to keep driving down costs for his organization as they deliver a service to the different groups that make up DHL, but his most difficult challenge was with server I/O in his VMware environment. If you read #4 in my post, regarding Proximal Data, this is exactly the issue the address. As VM instances grow on the physical servers, the I/O starts to become the big problem. DHL runs over 4000 instances of VMware and as the business demands more applications and application resources, they are bound by the I/O of the server, which also causes them to WAY over provision their storage for performance reasons. This is very time consuming, management intensive and expensive. The combination of a solution like Proximal Data as well as compression can help them optimize their infrastructure to save money and deliver better, more cost effective services to their lines of business.
On the lighter side, I spend the weekend in Prague. What an amazing city. The weather was fantastic and I was able to take a lot of great photos. I walked around Prague Castle, ate some authentic Czech food, visited the memorial for the Czech hockey players that passed in the Russian plane crash and met some pretty interesting people. You can check out some of my photos of Prague at www.facebook.com/skenniston. Coincidentally the photo above shows the "Golden Lane" where the Alchemists worked to turn anything they could find into gold in the city of Prague.