Okay, so not many times will you see a blog post from me admitting that, perhaps the marketing and messaging aspect of what I set out to do, probably could have been better thought out.
What am I saying? Well, after the Storwize acquisition into IBM, and IBM so graciously took the “Storwize” name and put it on another product, we needed to come up with a name for our technology and hence the name “Real-time Compression” was born.
Here is the problem. The name really doesn’t do the technology justice, in a nutshell, it is a bad name. Not because “Real-time Compression” isn’t important for all of the reasons we have talked about in the past, but because compression is not really a part of the overall IP of the platform. As I have blogged about before, Real-time Compression use industry standard LZ compression to compress the data. There is nothing really innovative behind that. The value in Real-time Compression is really to allow the compression to happen in “real-time”, and that is the true innovation. Thirty-five patents go into making the half a century old zip technology, actually useful in an enterprise environment. The ability to perform the 5 essential storage efficiency technologies in real-time is now table stakes for storage optimization.
The issue is, by calling the technology “Real-time Compression” is it leaves the too much to the interpretation of the user and with the name “compression” users tend to ignore the “real-time” part, the valuable part, and only talk about the act of “compression”. The reason why this is unfortunate is because the market has already set a perceived value for the technology called “compression” at free. EMC and NetApp talk about having “compression for free”. Well, as my grandfather used to tell me, Steve, “You always get what you pay for.” The reality is you can’t do compression in real time with either of their technologies, they cause a huge impact to storage performance, they do not seamlessly integrate with backup and cause more of a headache for backup then they are worth, thereby you don’t get the level of storage efficiency out of their “free compression” technology.
IBM really acquired 35 patents that go into making a real-time platform, and that is the business need that customers have today. It just so happens that the first “plug-in” to this real time platform was compression. The original patent set allowed for real-time virus scan, real-time QoS as well as other real-time solutions you would want from your storage. The reality is if you look at IBM’s 5 essential storage efficiency technologies, you can do them all in real time and IBM is the only ones who can say that. When you can do storage efficiency in real-time, you become transparent to your existing applications and processes and just make them more efficient without having to change your processes. This makes storage management and IT much more effective.
A few of the components of the IP that allow the platform to behave in real time are:
- Changing the input and output schema from a fixed to variable schema to a variable to fixed schema
- Performing optimization on a time basis vs. a location basis optimization schema
- Never having to read the data before optimizing the data
- Write grouping – combining data into one I/O for fast effective writes
This is why I say it is unfortunate that we called the technology “Real-time Compression” and lumped it in with the rest of the other “compression” technologies. We really are a real-time platform that will, over time, have other valuable technologies embedded into it, thereby adding more value to the real-time platform.
The video below is Dave Vellente from Wikibon and me at VMworld 2011 in the Wikibon Cube talking about the Real-time Platform.