Monday, April 30, 2007

Hu Yoshida

Is one of the finest guys in this industry. I wish I could be more like him.

I have known Hu since he hosted Ellen Lary and I on a whirlwind (and sometimes riotously humorous) tour of Japan and a series of meetings between DEC and Hitachi storage executives back in the early 1990's. He was fairly early on in his career then, but was so poised, articulate, and personable during that visit that it was easy to see he would one day become an industry leader, and he has...

Hu doesn't have a deceitful bone in his body. The terms Hu Yoshida and smarmy have never before been used in the same sentence until this one.

In fact, I am going to create and maintain a storage industry leader board with Hu is on the top rung. I bet he stays there for a long time.

BUT... (I have a sign somewhere at home that says, "everything before the BUT, is BS...")

Hu is wrong.

Virtualization does not just belong in the storage controller and we all know it.

Hu's not being deceitful, he's just not being clear. Virtualization as it relates to storage exists in at least 5 levels of the stack - the disks themselves, array controllers, intelligent switches, HBAs, and host based software. If I missed one or two, somebody will let me know. What I think Hu (as proxy for HDS) is trying to say that the virtualization of block mode storage should only be done in a purpose built storage controller (like Tag). Ok, that makes sense, depending on what we are virtualizing.

In fact, I would go further and perhaps state the obvious - maybe someday this obviousness will be called Kirby's Law - The initiation of virtualization is best accomplished at the layer directly above the virtualization target. (boy would I like to have a Law named after me...)

If you want to virtualize arrays, you put a virtualization layer directly above the arrays - not in HBAs or server software sitting two levels up in the plumbing. If you want to virtualize disks, you put virtualization on a storage controller not in an HBA, and so on...

Purists might argue that shades of grey exist - I myself have for years consistently argued that Tag is really an intelligent switch rather than a storage controller...and an HBA running RAID virtualization software, direct attached to a string of disks is actually a storage controller. Yeah, yeah...but stay focused on the bigger picture.

Kirby's Law (gawd, that sounds great, doesn't it?): The Initiation of Virtualization is Best Accomplished at the Layer Directly Above the Virtualization Target

If we take the above as true, the interesting discussion now becomes not where in the stack the virtualization resides , but what is being virtualized and how the virtualization is accomplished. Sustainable competitive advantage and real customer benefits can be derived from variances in endurance, sustainability, scale, performance, and other important qualities of the virtualization layer itself. More on that later...

Hu hereby enters the Storage Sanity Hall of Fame...and as you can all imagine...where there is a wall of fame, there must be a wall of...

Call the Lawyers - Kirby Just Started a Blog!!

This is a blog many people in the storage industry hoped would never be written.

I know too much, and I am just dumb enough not to keep my mouth shut, and that tends to frighten people.

Honestly, I didn't really want to do this myself. For years, people have been coming up to me at industry shows, and sending me emails, emploring me to blog. They probably didn't realize that encouraging me to blog is like emploring an alcoholic to take just one little drink...

I hate reading the mindless ramblings of most storage bloggers. ('s part of my job to keep up on the buzz, so I have to read everything...) The smarmy insipidness of corporate mouthpiece blogs makes me want to take a shower after I read them.

And, I know I can't hold a candle to respected independents like my old friends Robin and Jon when it comes to depth and insight. I kept asking myself, what could I possibly contribute to the storage blogastalt?

Not coming up with a good answer, for years, I just observed...

Like many of you, I fumed when I was scolded by Mr. T as a fool for thinking virtualization could ever be done anywhere other than a storage controller.

And I fussed about CH's truely lame and yuckily corporate response.

I found myself feeling bad for ML. (I honestly like him, but lately to me he seems kind of lost in the machine. Anyone who can read an SEC filing knows the money's great, but's short. And like my mom used to say, "Sleep with dogs, wake up with fleas.")

I screamed at my screen when JD tried to put his spin on the birth of CDP and the death of the company that brought it to life. What really got to upset was not his self serving mumblings, it was that people seemed to actually beleive that this was the definitive story because some guy (who was completely removed from the action, and has not a clue about what really happened or why) wrote it down.

(Pompously Speaking ...I do know exactly what happened. In fact, I was one of the parents of CDP, and I look forward to sharing the true story when my NDA expires in June - so stick around Storage Sanity for that one.)

And, like all of you, I donned noise-filtering headphones as marketing departments across the industry forced their latest bullspit through the virtual blog of their company's hapless CTO...(if one of my CTOs ever has a blog, you'll darn well know s/he wrote it themselves...)

still I refrained...

Several times my fingers headed for the keyboard, but...somehow each time, fate intervened...

until today.

Today, I have finally reached the tipping point. Today, a perfect storm of industry arrogance, intellectual dishonesty, and smelly, nasty, truly yucky corporate market-o-bloging finally forced my hand.

Today is the last day I will sit in my office, stare open-mouthed at my screen, and mutter, "does s/he really think anybody is going to beleive that crap..???!!"

Today I am decloaking, and I give fair warning to the storaborg. Kirby has a blog. My comments here are not on behalf of past, future, or current employers. I am blogging here for my own sanity, and perhaps for the sake of a once proud industry founded on selling spinning rust that has fed me and my family for almost 30 years.

From now on, if you bloviate, equivocate, exaggerate, fabricate, or especially...smarm about storage - you're mine.

Who's first in line?