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In Praise of Evangelists

In a prior entry, I wrote about how the lack of a totally pro-tape company was hurting the overall tape business. We could use someone to throw a wrench in the rush to disk. We may still decide that disk is the way to go, but checking things out along the way is a good idea. Otherwise, it's sort of like rushing to pass a stimulus bill without exploring all the other options or even reading it.

Another example is iSCSI. The purchase of the two primary iSCSI evangelists (LeftHand and EqualLogic) hurt the overall protocol from an exposure standpoint. No longer do you have the almost shameless "it can do anything Fibre Channel can do" endorsement of the protocol and the attack on Fibre, NAS and other storage methods. Because of the acquisitions, the pro-iSCSI drumbeat now has to be tempered since both Dell and HP offer Fibre Channel and NAS-based solutions. In the past, EqualLogic, for example, would go to great lengths to talk you out of Fibre and into iSCSI. I doubt that Dell will do that -- if you want a Fibre SAN that's what they'll sell you.

A company that offers choices is good for users -- it allows you to be able to get what you want from whom you want. The problem I see with these Wal-Mart-type of manufacturers is that they are not really committed to anything. While they imply this is a good thing because they can provide you the solution that is best for you, I have not seen that happen in the real world. They typically supply what you think is best for you.

If you don't have the time to properly research the project, you are likely to go with conventional wisdom. If you have the time to do the research, this scenario is probably OK because you may find the best solution. However, human nature is likely going to have you only research what you are most comfortable with. Every so often it's good to have a wrench thrown into the research of a solution that forces you to look at the problem from a totally different angle.

These wrench throwers are the evangelists -- people or organizations that have a totally different way of looking at things. A great example is what Fusion-io and now Texas Memory Systems are doing to the solid-state disk market. Suddenly we are looking at local vs. SAN storage again. They have thrown a big wrench into the process that forces me and you to reexamine things. We may come to the same conclusion, but we may not. A detour in your normal evaluation process may save you a lot of money and possibly get you better performance.

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