The AVA ??

By | June 12, 2007

Anyway Ive been out of action recently with a nice kidney infection so have missed out on some of the news and stuff going on in the storage world and have been playing catch-up the last few days.

One interesting thing that I noticed was that Dave Roberson has swapped HDS for HP.  Obviously the he felt the grass was greener on the other side………. actually, is HP even classed as “the other side”?  Anyway one obvious plus for Dave is the immediate increase in productivity he will realise by not wasting as much time spelling his email address to colleagues – @hp.com is full letter shorter than @hds.com!

The interesting thing about this move though, and Ive not seen anything written about it, is what impact this might have on the EVA.  We already know that HP resells Hitachi’s high end storage as the XP.  But as of this moment in time HP have their own midrange offering in the EVA.

There are obviously several directions this could go in, including, but not limited to, those listed below –

  • Nothing will change
  • The EVA will be end-of-lifed and HP will start reselling the AMS/WMS midrange kit
  • The best features of the EVA and the AMS/WMS will be taken, thrown into a pot, and a new modular array will be born
  • Hitachi will end of life the AMS/WMS range and it will be replaced with the EVA

Ive tried to list them above in order of likelihood (the top one being the most likely) – in my humble opinion of course.

I personally would be very disappointed if the EVA was end-of-lifed.  Ive said it before and I’ll say it again, I think when it was first released it was ahead of its time and still has some really cool features that we don’t see enough of elsewhere.  One of my favourites is still the wide back end striping and the way it will re-distribute the load (re-level) if you add more disks on the back end.  Of course I know its had its problems in the past and in many ways I think they were a reflection of the problems that the HP StorageWorks division was having in general.  Problems at the top and in the background inevitably manifest themselves on the playing field.

Anyway, HP StorageWorks seems to be turning a corner these days and this could be a good thing for the EVA.  However, sadly we live in a ruthless world where decisions are ultimately made by people who don’t understand cool stuff, like wide back end striping and dynamic re-levelling.

Number 3 in the list above is the most exciting, albeit unlikely, prospect in my opinion.  A hybrid of the EVA and the AMS, call it the AVA (Adaptable Virtual Array).  Stranger things have happened….. at least I think they have 😉

Anyway, long live the EVA.  If it does die, I might have to pick me one up from E-bay for posterities sake.

Thoughts welcome as always.

Nigel

7 thoughts on “The AVA ??

  1. Karl

    FYI – there’s no “t” in Roberson.

    I don’t think HDS sees HP as “the other side”. I’m guessing this is a joint move for both companies to transfer an exec that can leverage his knowledge to help HP sell even more of the HDS product, a win-win for both firms if he’s successful.

  2. Nigel (mackem)

    Hi Karl,

    Thanks for the comments and spotting the typo.  Ive taken the libery of correcting it.

    While I agree that HDS probably don’t see HP as the other side, at least not in the same way as EMC NetApp and IBM, Im not too sure they will be wanting HP to sell more XP’s.  Hitachi might like this, but HDS? In many ways HP are the other side.

    May be upper management etc are different, but down in the trenches HP and HDS compete hard against each other when it comes to sales.  I remember it was very common for HP sales and even techie guys to call the XP "special" compared to the "vanilla HDS product".  Making all this spin about enhancements to the microcode and the likes.  And on the HDS side they would play on their close relationship to Hitachi.  Although I don’t hear the HP guys trying to pull the enhanced microcode spin any more the two companies are still very competetive against each other.

    I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

  3. Cleanur

    Not sure why HP would want to replace the EVA with the fairly dated technology of the HDS midrange. Why take the step back to traditional raid, it removes any product differentiation you have over the competition, EMC, HDS, IBM. None of them really have virtualisation in a midrange array. Expect some good news on EVA very soooon………..

  4. Nigel (mackem)

    Cleanur

    I agree totally with your point about the superior technology of the EVA.  My concern comes from the fact that obviously HP already OEM high end storage from Hitachi and may see an opportunity to extend the scope of that deal and get some extra value out of it (cut costs).

    While the EVA is a great product, the StoreageWorks division has been under the cosh for a long time now and the bean cunters at HP may see an opportunity to cut R&D and all the other associated costs of designing and building your own technology.  If it would help make the StorageWorks division of HP proofitable, for the first year in living memory, then may be they would take the backwards step to traditional RAID as you mentioned.   Hopefully not.

    I’m also pretty sure that Hitachi would be very keen on having HP OEM the AMS as currently the AMS doesn’t have much of a share of the market and a deal with HP would certainly reverse that.

    Oh and feel free to tell me whats happening with the EVA, that you hinted at, and I’ll leak it here and nobody will ever know it came from you 😉

    PS.  Sorry about Leeds.

  5. Cleanur

    Nigel, slight Freudian Slip on the bean counters comment. OEMing midrange kit means low margins and zero credibility. The only way to make up the margin deficit is to provide software and services around the solution.  Unless these are unique to your flavour of product or have some form of  platform lockin then why would a customer choose to entrust their hard earned $$££ to you and not the OEM ? Take Netapp and IBM as an example, customers in the market for a filer who are in the know, will beat Netapps price down by using IBM to provide N-Series quotes. More than likely they won't buy from IBM though since they have very little experience on the Ntapp platform and they know support from the OEM is likely to be better. But the customer will have achieved his goal of procuring a filer from Netapp whilst meeting his price point.

    The OEM relationship tends to work at the highend since there's much more cash floating about and less competition, which allows for more bespoke service and software offerings, platform lockin, and then there's always the political element to take into account when making strategic decisions.

  6. Nigel

    I always wondered why companies would buy from a reseller rather than the OEM.  However, I have a couple of ideas. 
     
    Take Brocade for example, an immensely small company compared to many of its resellers like HP and IBM.  And until a year or so ago Brocade had no PS organisation in Europe and the last time I checked their entire PS group in Europe consisted of 4 people.  Compare that with HP and IBM.  Who would you trust your data centre to?
     
    Then there’s the fact that these resellers often offer more of the whole solution; tape, servers, OS……  Obviously there’s not always lock in involved but having experience with the entire solution, as well as not having multiple organisations arguing over who’s problem it is when the brown stuff hits the fan can often be seen as an advantage.
     
    Take the example of IBM and NetApp that you mentioned.  Over time IBM will likely get more and more experience with the NetApp platform and eventually have experience with the NetApp platform running on IBM solutions.  When that happens will they be better than NetApp?  Im not sure, Im just thinking out loud.
     
    While I agree with you on the credibility issue, I think that there are ways around this…..
    If HP struck an agreement with Hitachi Ltd where they worked together on the core AMS technology then may be they could maintain some credibility?  And if that happened then hopefully it would start to look more and more like the EVA.
     
    Back on the topic of the EVA and the AMS, all of this is assuming you accept HDS as the OEM.  I have seen HP presentations bragging that they are the only company out of HP, HDS and Sun who have both an OEM and an engineering agreement (work together on the core technology) with Hitachi Japan.  They go on to list HDS as a mere reseller of Hitachi storage and not the OEM.
     
    BTW you forgot to tell us what the pending good news on the EVA was.

  7. akro

    If any of the future stuff I saw a year ago comes into play the EVA has some exciting things coming down the pike.  I’ll give you a hint, think of some of the interesting things you can do if you really change the way the loop switches work.

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