We interviewed 3Par CEO David Scott recently and he gave out fairly strong views on EMC and 3Par. Scott criticised EMC on grounds of energy usage, management complexity and inadequate array virtualisation.
The greener company
Scott thinks EMC customers pay higher energy bills than they need to. His company is a greener one and will save customers energy money whilst providing better storage services. The idea is that 3Par's thin provisioning whereby applications only get the disk they need rather than the disk they are allocated pushes up drive utilisation. So you need fewer drives.
"In the IT world there is an incredible focus on the environmental aspects of IT. Every storage drive needs 65 watts to operate it and cool it. In 2006 there were 105 million installed in multi-user systems according to Gartner. Multiply that by 65 watts times the number of hours in a year and you have the total kilowatt hours needed. We calculated that just supporting those 105 million drives would need 35 million barrels of oil this year."
"By using 3Par's thin provisioning you cut the number of disk drives in half. You could have cut the oil consumption in half. If you recognise this then you can think green and you can think 3Par."
We asked if customers are actually concerned about this?
"Yes, they are. It relates to lower (electrical) power CPUs. But storage is the biggest offender. EMC should stand for emit more carbon. The inefficiency and poor utilisation of EMC drives mean you're emitting more noxious gasses. It's not where information lives; it's where disk capacity goes to die. (EMC) disk utilisation is so poor that 80 percent of disk capacity is unused. They never realise their purpose."
Next Scott moved onto the SNIA's system management interface specification, SMI-S. "I was recently talking to the director of a major bank. He said he thought SMI-S was dying on its feet. SMI-S needs strengthening and it's strengthened by delivery. When will EMC's ControlCenter use SMI-S? If they want to decrease customer's complexity than have ControlCenter use SMI-S."
Concerning virtualisation Scott said EMC has InVista for SAN virtualisation, Rainfinity for NAS virtualisation and VMware for server virtualisation: "Why is it they don't have fine-grained virtualisation in Symmetrix and Clariion? It's applied virtualisation technology everywhere - except in their core area of competency. Perhaps they are worried about the business model implications of thin provisioning?"
In other words EMC would sell smaller arrays if a thin provisioning capability existed for Symmetrix and Claririon.
"EMC doesn't offer fine-grained virtualisation in their storage arrays, as they do in the server world with VMware. Yet virtualisation is the key to storage efficiency."
The 3Par pitch is that fine-grained virtualisation enables utility computing and: "Utility computing as a philosophy destroys the business model of existing leading storage vendors which is based on selling lots of disk drives, selling different silos of storage for different applications, selling more complexity to integrate these different silos, and offering professional services help to support customers deal with this complexity."
Naturally 3Par meets EMC an awful lot of the time in customer bid situations: "More than 90 percent of our business is in direct competition with EMC in the final stages. A lot of our customers are long-term EMC customers. A big proportion of our customers are in financial services which is an EMC stronghold."
There have been stories about Tucci flying in to rally wavering customers who are thinking of buying 3Par. Scott said: "We've been tickling the elephant's belly and it's been stomping around for a while now. A lot of our customers have started to realise that storage is one of the most inefficient elements of their IT architectures. The major storage vendors don't offer a solution to the storage efficiency problems and storage resource problems they have."
Scott says: "We're the only company that wants to sell customers fewer disk drives. We only sell one storage silo. It's simple and you don't need storage resource management software to manage the arrays, so there is no need for professional services."
How does 3Par fare when it encounters EMC? "We win significantly more than we lose competing with EMC. Our only issue is how many times we're invited to the table. That's the only limit on growth at the moment."
Scott is feeling bullish. Sales are up, his company is growing and neither EMC nor Netapp, nor HDS for that matter, has responded to 3Par's products with any changes to their basic strategies. You get the feeling that he hopes that state of affairs will continue.