Over the last few weeks, storage insiders have been abuzz with speculation that a merger between HP and Symantec is imminent. Whether such talks are occurring, I can not definitively say, but if it does occur, the whole corporate world might as well kiss goodbye any hopes it had of creating and managing a heterogeneous storage environment.
Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit. Kissing heterogeneity goodbye won’t happen the day such a deal is signed (if it occurs), and it probably won’t ever completely happen. HP and Symantec will likely both pledge that heterogeneous support will remain part of their product roadmaps. And, it’s likely that is true. However, one can almost bet that when it comes time to prioritize which storage products are tested first in conjunction with future releases of Symantec’s Veritas storage software that HP’s storage products will find their way to the head of the line.
More disconcerting is what Symantec’s acquisition by HP (or whoever they are acquired by or merge with) would mean for the future of heterogeneous storage environments in general. At one time, Symantec was on the vanguard of supporting an enterprise heterogeneous storage environment. Yet, now no one is really shocked or even appears overly concerned when Symantec is mentioned as a candidate for an acquisition or merger by what is traditionally considered a storage hardware vendor.
This mindset is testimony to changing user concerns and priorities. It used to be that storage hardware was the primary cost in user data center. Not anymore. Now, it is the management of the storage hardware — even if a user buys all of the hardware from the same storage vendor.
The complexity associated with managing storage hardware from multiple different vendors has become a mind-boggling exercise. While at one time it may have been worthwhile to spend the extra time and money to verify if an HP-UX server worked with an IBM storage system, now it is questionable if that is still the case. Instead I sense an increased willingness on the part of users to pay a premium to buy all of their storage hardware and software from one vendor and avoid checking multiple different support matrixes that using heterogeneous environments requires.
The looming acquisition or merger of Symantec, regardless of by who, signals the re-emergence of an old systems management philosophy. Companies no longer want a one trick pony for their storage management needs, even if that one trick pony manages heterogeneous storage environments. Instead more companies appear to want a return to simpler times where they buy all of their storage hardware and software from one vendor that all work nicely together. Let’s just hope that if companies have to revert back to this philosophy, that it works better this time than it did in the past.