Talking to a storage systems vendor I found out just how hard it can be being a storage subsystem OEM these days. Take RAID controllers.

Such a beast has a stack consisting of a hardware processor, an operating system and application code. The subsystem vendor supplies all three today. But maybe not tomorrow.

Creeping commoditisation and cost-avoidance can destroy the subsystem vendor's value-add completely. It goes like this. First of all replace the hardware processor with a commodity processor bought more cheaply elsewhere.

Then replace the subsystem vendor's expensive O/S with a cheaper one, perhaps an open source one. That leaves the RAID application code as the sole value-add with consequent reduced revenue for the Dot Hills, Engenios and Xyratex' of this world.

It could get worse. Say filesystems like ZFS spread. It has data protection features in it with self-healing. Oops; no need for RAID at all.

If I were a storage system vendor such a wiping out of value from the subsystem supplier would represent a great cost-saving to me which could go straight to my bottom line. Why would I not like that?

If I were a RAID subsystem vendor I would know this and be developing additional value-add up the stack above the RAID application software as fast as I could. Once upon a time there as a thriving business importing ice from the Arctic wastes into Europe and North America. Refrigerators killed that trade. Maybe RAID controllers supplied to storage system vendors are destined for the chop also.