Thursday, June 7, 2007

I told you so...again...

Here it comes. Mine's bigger than yours. Mommy likes me better. It's not FAIR!!!

Chris Mellor - who is in the top rungs of my "professional storage press who actually know what they are writing about" list - reports today on the marketing ironies of who's claiming to be first in storage. Chris correctly points out that EMC is by far the market leader in external disk systems. While HP is claiming it's number one in total disk revenue. I am fully expecting a press release from Dot Hill any moment claiming it is the market leader in disks powered by 42vdc uninteruptable power supplies...

Boys and Girls, the market leader in disk is Seagate, period. Everyone else is "vending tin" as my friend who runs storage for one of the largest banks in the world says. To my mind, the measure of the market is who is ultimately pulling home the purchase order - not who supplies what to whom.

And Kids - with all due respect to IDC and Gartner(Dataquest) - there is no big magic eye in the storage sky counting every system shipped and tallying every invoice. Each analyst firm has, or claims to have, a proprietary methodology for determining market share.

Let me open that can of worms and let a little light in there.

In the 1990s, I ran the world wide marketing organization for the 'then' market leader in storage. Back then - before dirt - the proprietary methodology of the market reporting analyst firms was to call a guy I will call Kris (actually I can't remember his real name, which is probably safer for both of us anyway) who worked in my organization. Kris would whisper some revenue numbers to his friend at the analyst firm, who in turn would machinate predictions, apply theories, and ultimately report that we had sold about what Kris had told him.

I didn't invent this process, I inherited it. Kris had worked for the company for 20 years, presumably leaking similar information to similar analysts for most of that time. Of course, I didn't officially know about this leak - didn't condone it and would claim Mad Cow now if forced to testify anyway - besides it was way, way, way before SOX, the company doesn't exist anymore, and I am pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out - but I betcha a donut that somewhere, somehow it's still pretty much the same process, albeit much more detailed, complex, and electronic.

I'm confident the industry analysts ask channel partners for revenue numbers, count trucks leaving the vendor factories, talk to customer purchasing agents, dive in garbage cans, dissemble financial statements...and then ultimately make a bunch of phone calls to a bunch of Kris's...and punt.

Given all that effort, they may actually be sorta kinda directionally correct - but within a few percentage points? Kids...get real.

And, the nonsense about HDS hardware being sold by HP and Sun, and EMC being sold by Dell?? Nothing's changed there. We aren't interested in who sells the most disks - I already told's Seagate. We want to know who is gaining traction with the customer as the go to "trusted advisor" for storage related purchases. That relationship is where the money is, not in who sold how many tons of tin this year.

The interesting thing - and beleive me I am not an IBM cheerleader as much as this blog is beginning to sound like it - is that after getting the storage business ripped out from under them 15 years ago by EMC, IBM is crawling back on top as that trusted advisor for all (many) things storage.

Beleive it or no, my take is that HP is second in this holistic (and I think pragmatic) view of market leadership.

Sun reminds me of a smart kid with ADD - something I know a little bit about - it has all the ingredients, everybody seems to like it, all the teachers and coaches want it to succeed...because it has great promise...we all know it could make it...IF IT WOULD JUST APPLY ITSELF!!!

And, yes, I agree EMC still sells a bunch of disk systems.

But, I'll know for sure if I can just find Kris' phone's gotta be around here somewhere...


Administrator said...

HP number two "trusted advisor" for storage related purchases"?


As far as their storage techie guys go, although they are all top notch geezers, they are all too often a mish mash of HP-UX, ServiceGuard or whatever else with a smattering of storage thrown in for good measure.

I really dont want to knock HP as I like them, their products and especially many of their engineers and PS guys. But they are not quite in the same league as EMC and HDS when it comes to storage focus and experience.

Granted this is down at engineer and PS consultant type level but I dont see their StorageWorks division in eneral setting the world alight!

AceSage said...

Thx for the post, nigel

yeah - maybe I am getting soft and sentimental in my old age...

let's give Dave Roberson 100 days and see what he can do...

Anonymous said...

comparing seagate to #1 in disk, is like comparing champion spark plug to #1 in car sales.

AceSage said...

interesting perspective - anon

and accurate if cars were filled to the brim with spark plugs, and spark plugs provided 90% of the customers basic need for transportation.

From the point of view of a storage OEM, disk = array.

My point exactly is that this perspective will change, is changing.