Eschew Storage Vendors' Obfuscation!

Vendors specialize in 'technical' arguments about various storage approaches

November 9, 2007

2 Min Read
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Young North Americans once had a clever response to bureaucratic excuse-making, market spin, or pious baloney, one that made it onto numerous now-collectible bumper stickers: "Eschew Obfuscation!"

It's time to bring back that chestnut and paste it on storage vendors' trade show booths. But it's doubtful that would stem the flow of sheer exaggeration, hyperbole, and technological gobbledygook the suppliers to this market generate.

Case in point: This week, a representative of a VTL vendor of international renown, who shall remain nameless, contacted me requesting an interview with the CEO. Seems the fellow wanted to hold forth on de-duplication. Specifically, he wanted to educate our readers on how "data deduplication approaches vary and outline key considerations for choosing the approach that best meets the needs of large enterprises."

I knew what to expect. The rest of the note confirmed my suspicion: The CEO was eager to compare hash and byte-level de-duplication, as well as in-line versus post-processing.

No thanks, Mr. CEO. Readers have had enough of the de-duplication religious wars. And in spite of claims for various approaches, which most recently emerged in yesterday's news that Overland will adopt Diligent's de-duplication in its VTLs, the fact remains there are arguments for and against the full range of approaches to this technique. There is also some evidence that products of all ilks can be effective.Meanwhile, the issues that experts suggest buyers look into regarding de-duplication don't relate to the nuts and bolts underneath as much as to the practicalities of implementing a solution in particular environment.

Indeed, some emerging players argue against the need for de-duplication as a means of data reduction at all.

Meanwhile, vendors will be vendors, and they are grinding the axe at every opportunity, using technological arguments to do so whenever possible. In addition to de-duplication, there are other areas of this market where vendorbabble is particularly cacophonous:

  • Energy savings. There is plenty of important work going on in this arena, but there's a big fluff factor as well.

  • Thin provisioning. Here's a technology that attracts claims and counterclaims like Swiffers nab dust bunnies. Again, the important selection factors may be entirely divorced from issues of where and how the feature is implemented in a particular product.

  • E-discovery. This topic isn't about being able to classify archived data, but vendors persist in representing it that way. By now, it should be plain that just because you have a data store doesn't mean you can search it; and searchability doesn't imply legal expertise.

  • Automation. Here's another area where vendor verbiage proliferates. Who doesn't want things to work automatically, in the data center, remote site, or SMB? But just what automation means and who's doing it remain open to plenty of questions.

Have we covered the main areas of vendor obfuscation? If you've got more, hit that message board below, or write to us anytime at [email protected].

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