By Warren Smith
Before the holiday season shutdown last month, Wikibon's David Vellante moderated a roundtable discussion online to aggregate takeaway impressions from EMC's Dec 9 & 10, 2008 Annual Analyst Meeting. And with apologies to Jim Croce's ballad, " You Don't Mess Around With Jim", the following are some of the contributed points made during this Wikibon roundtable that effectively "pulls the mask off that old lone ranger (EMC)".
Against a background of general concern for the recession facing most customers and markets, EMC sought to re-assure investors and analysts at their Analyst Meeting. Nevertheless, these critical observations were expressed by these analysts on the Wikibon call: Gary MacFadden, Dennis Martin, Bill Mottram, Nick Allen, Josh Krischer & David Floyer.
Work to do in the area of energy efficiency.
EMC does have some work to do in the area of energy efficiency. While it is doing good work internally, and this was presented at the meeting, it has not been as forthcoming about reducing energy consumption of its products. In a discussion of whether EMC is a leader or a follower in Green Storage, David Floyer answered: "EMC is definitely a follower. Up until now, I haven't heard Joe Tucci or any of the senior EMC people emphasize Green at all." Bill Mottram concurred: "...little to nothing references with regard to the green approaches, the design approaches to device level energy efficiencies."
Cloud Storage? - Not so fast; don't forget latency.
EMC SVP Mike Feinberg promoted for the analysts the new Atmos technology , which fundamentally represents the EMC version of cloud computing storage. But Nick Allen expressed reservations on how impractical Atmos may be for many corporate customers: " Man, I am turning total skeptic on this one. Even for internal networks, the latencies that build up are immense. ..Conclusion: EMC has to not only control the storage cloud, but also the network of the cloud in order to provide consistent, predictable performance."
Note: In addition to a recording of the audio from the roundtable call, the Wikibon site also includes a written narrative that expands upon these points. Contained in this narrative are comparative test results that Dennis Martin provided. In particular: "Local disk subsystems these days typically deliver data response times of five milliseconds or less. What does the Internet yield(i.e. in the context of Atmos storage performance)? To research this we conducted a few simple tests. To sample typical Internet delays, we pinged 15 of the most popular sites as listed by Alexa, the Web Information Co., once a second for a period of one minute with the following results:
- Average Latency 72 ms
- Maximum Latency 142 ms
- Minimum Latency 25 ms "
This should cast great performance concerns for using Atmos for any application that has transactional or interactive performance requirements.
Black Clouds over EMC core storage business?
Josh Krischer voiced his concerns over EMC's core storage business strength:"There are two black clouds above EMC's core business. One of them is the Dell purchase of EqualLogic. And already the percentage of CLARiiON sales have dropped from 35% to 32 %, which Dell is selling. And the second thing is that Fujitsu-Siemens Computer will be Fujitsu. And the question is: how long will it continue to sell EMC? It is one of the biggest DMX sellers of EMC. ...And so, on the core business (of EMC), I am skeptical."
Note: Fujitsu Siemens has been a joint venture between Fujitsu and Germany's Siemens AG. Last month, Fujitsu agreed with Siemens to purchase Siemens's 50% stake in the joint venture. The deal is expected to close by April 1 pending government approval. No statement has been made about Fujitsu intentions to curtail EMC resales.
Finally, there are many more discussion items in the Wikibon roundtable analysis from the 2008 EMC Analyst Meeting that are less relevant and too numerous for this column. Highlighted here for your reading are just of few of the items that Wikibon experts voiced that pull on the supposed impenetrable cape of EMC. Thanks to Wikibon for these points.
Warren Smith, HP