Exclusion or Not?

A couple days ago I read Stephen Foskett’s article “Alas, VMware, Whither HDS?”, and I felt like I really needed to respond to this growing belief—stated in Stephen’s article and in the sources to his article—that VMware is, for whatever reason, somehow excluding certain storage vendors from future virtualization-storage integration development. From my perspective, this is just bogus.

As far as I can tell, Stephen’s post—which is just one of several I’ve seen on this subject—is based on two sources: my session blog of VSP3205 and an article by The Register. I wrote the session blog, I sat in the session, and I listened to the presenters. Never once did one of the presenters indicate that the five technology partners that participated in this particular demonstration were the only technology partners with whom they would work moving forward, and my session blog certainly doesn’t state—or even imply—that VMware will only work with a limited subset of storage vendors. In fact, the thought that other storage vendors would be excluded never even crossed my mind until the appearance of The Register’s post. That invalidates my VSP3205 session blog as a credible source for the assertion that VMware would be working with only certain storage companies for this initiative.

The article at The Register cites my session blog and a post by Wikibon analyst David Floyer as a source. I’ve already shown how my blog doesn’t support the claim that some vendors will be excluded, but what about the other source? The Wikibon article states this:

Wikibon understands that VMware plans to work with the normal storage partners (Dell, EMC, Hewlett Packard, IBM, and NetApp) to provide APIs to help these traditional storage vendors add value, for example by optimizing the placement of storage on the disks.

This statement, however, is not an indication that VMware will work only with the listed storage vendors. (Floyer does not, by the way, cite any sources for that statement.)

Considering all this information, the only place that is implying VMware will limit the storage vendors with whom they will work is Chris Mellor at The Register. However, even Chris’ article quotes a VMware spokesperson who says:

“Note that we’re still in early days on this and none of the partners above have yet committed to support the APIs – and while it is our intent to make the APIs open, currently that is not the case given that what was demo’d during this VMworld session is still preview technology.”

In other words, just because HDS or any other vendor didn’t participate (which might indicate that the vendor chose not to participate) does not mean that they are somehow excluded from future inclusion in the development of this proposed new storage architecture. In fact, participation—or lack thereof—at this stage really means nothing, in my opinion. If this proposed storage architecture gets its feet under it and starts to run, then I’m confident VMware will allow any willing storage vendor to participate. In fact, it would be detrimental to VMware to not allow any willing storage partner to participate.

However, it gets more attention if you proclaim that a particular storage vendor was excluded; hence, the title (and subtitle) that The Register used. I have a feeling the reality is probably quite different than the picture painted in some of these articles.

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  1. Jeramiah Dooley’s avatar

    Good post, Scott. I guess it’s different when you are “sourced” for one of their hatchet jobs, but I’m no longer surprised when the Reg adds 1 and 2 and comes up with 1,068 and then pairs that with an alarmist and misleading title. If anyone reads them as a legitimate source of news, the joke is on them.

  2. Erick Moore’s avatar

    Full disclosure, I’m a NetApp employee. It is our belief, and personal experience that VMware does not, and cannot exclude certain storage vendors. The fact is VMware is a publicly traded company, and although they are majority owned by EMC, they still have to answer to their shareholders. Excluding large segments of the market would be a poor financial decision. The API’s that we use are the same ones that are made available to every vendor who wants to write code for them.

  3. slowe’s avatar

    Jeramiah, I grow more disillusioned with most of the technology “press” each and every day, sadly.

    Erick, thanks for your comment and thanks for the disclosure. It’s good to hear that your experience from within NetApp mirrors my own experience within EMC. The point about VMW being a publicly traded company is a good one as well, a fact that many people overlook (I hadn’t thought about it, either).

  4. Duncan’s avatar

    Thanks Scott,

    I am planning on giving my thoughts around this API soon.

  5. Jason’s avatar

    Scott… see this blog post from Hu Yoshidas blog, in here they specifically cite their involvement in this area:

    “Hitachi is a member of this VMware API Program for I/O Demux (vVOL), and has been since its beginning.”

    http://blogs.hds.com/hu/2011/09/turning-concept-into-reality.html

  6. Julie Herd’s avatar

    There’s a flip side to this discussion that is very true with regards to vendor exclusion.

    While I’m certain that there is no policy in VMware excluding vendor X or Y, unless you are one of the Big 6 in the storage industry, the result is the same. Your ability to participate in the ‘APIs that are made available to every vendor’ is crippled by lack of information, feedback and technical resources that only come when you are part of HDS, EMC, IBM, NTAP, HP, Oracle. Including the fact that the APIs are only made available to the ‘rest of us’ months (dare I say years?) after other the Big 6 have had access to them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing VMware as the only one who does this. It’s true of any big kid company to pay the most attention to the partners who represent the lion’s share of the market. it only makes business sense.

    But keep that in mind when you are jumping to VMware’s defense as ‘not excluding other storage vendors’. Because they are.

  7. slowe’s avatar

    Jason, thanks for that link—it’s good to hear from within HDS.

    Julie, I don’t recall having seen you post a comment here before, so you might not be aware that I ask all vendors to disclose their affiliation. I mention this only because I saw that your IP address appeared to come from an IP address block assigned to BlueArc. Having said that, I appreciate your perspective from within another storage vendor. While I don’t doubt your word, it doesn’t jive from what I’ve heard (and seen) from within VMware. Hopefully, now that BlueArc is part of HDS, you and your colleagues will get better access to VMware technology partner resources. Thanks for your comment!

  8. Julie Herd’s avatar

    Scott,

    Apologies, didn’t mean to hide. Yes, I’m Director of Product Management at BlueArc, now part of HDS. it’s freely available on my Twitter account, I forget to disclose on blog comments.

    Yes, the change in attention has been swift and refreshing. Highlighting all the more what we weren’t getting when we weren’t part of the Big 6.

  9. Julie Herd’s avatar

    After commenting, I realized that I forgot the standard disclaimer. My thoughts are my own, and do not reflect any official sentiment of BlueArc or HDS.

  10. slowe’s avatar

    Julie, thanks for the clarification (and the disclaimer).

  11. Robert Reynolds’s avatar

    After hearing some of these pronouncements that did not include HDS I spoke with one of the HDS engineers that works with VMware and he assured me that HDS is well involved with the different APIs. He described their approach as not pre-announcing features and working quietly within the confines of NDAs as they develop products. Based on our experience with HDS this makes sense and is in line with what we have seen before. The Register article is an example of speculation informed by incomplete information that is simply not true.