Dinosaurs walk the Earth

Dinosaurs walk the Earth

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I was raised on a steady diet of cheesy 1950s sci-fi movies, many of which began with a breathless narrator proclaiming something like "It was a dangerous time, when dinosaurs walked the earth...." These days, it's still a dangerous time for dinosaurs that walk the earth. I'm referring to those storage vendors who live in the past and haven't adapted to current realities.

How can you tell these vendors are dinosaurs? After all, they don't appear that different from other vendors. Our latest Purchasing Intentions Survey gives many clues on how to spot them. Beware of doing business with them because they could become extinct before you've depreciated their wares.

Here are some telltale signs:

  • They sell software, but it costs a ton and doesn't do anything immediately useful without months of configuration, and worse, committee meetings to decide on the underlying policies needed to configure it. The software probably can't tell you basic things like how much storage you have and how much of it is being utilized; and even if it can, it may not be able to report on those metrics in simple, repeatable ways.
  • They have a "Fibre Channel rules" bumper sticker on their car and a "Real men don't do IP" button on their shirt. They think that you can't figure out how to use both Fibre Channel and IP in the same company, although they can't explain why that would be so hard to do. And when you offer to stick with Fibre Channel if they can bring the price down under $500 per HBA, they laugh hysterically.
  • They have "Tape forever!" tattooed on their foreheads. When you ask them why you wouldn't at least use disk to improve tape staging, they don't answer. When you ask them what they're doing about data duplication on tape and reducing restores from days to minutes, they wander away muttering.
  • They insist that you want to buy most of your infrastructure from the same vendor, even when you tell them about your policy of having two vendors at each level. They think that you'll buy their disk arrays because they make good notebooks, or SAN management software because you use their backup package. Even when they lose the sale, they don't come back and tell you how they've improved the interoperability of their products with other vendors.
The current theory is that the original dinosaurs were wiped out when a meteor crashed into the Gulf of Mexico and made life difficult for a few hundred or thousand years. The comet that hit the storage market was the recent recession and continuing difficult times. In the last few years, many of you have taken a hard look at old habits and they've actually died a rather easy death. Multiple vendors, multiple technologies and a high level of value consciousness are increasingly common in storage shops today.

Next time one of our modern-day dinosaurs comes on a sales call, maybe you can show them a nine-track tape machine, some eight-inch floppies or an old Vax sitting in the corner of the data center. Maybe they'll finally get the message.

This was first published in May 2004
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