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July 14, 2009

2.016: ds8000 finally gets thin provisioning -- for a fat price

So today IBM announces thin provisioning is finally going to be available on the DS8000 (at the end of August) more than 18 months after IBM begrudgingly admitted that thin was indeed a requirement for enterprise (wanna-bee) storage last year.

Both Beth Pariseau and I found it pretty funny back then that IBM was only just changing its tune from "nobody needs it" to "ours will be better" when they started talking about TP last year – in fact, I was ROTFLMAO if you recall.

InflateThePigBut once again, IBM is late to the party, and as usual they've shown up without the requisite invitation.

The starting asking price for IBM's Thin Provisioning on the DS8000?


Jeez, Louise – what are they thinking?

I thought marketing was supposed to lipstick the pig, not INFLATE it!

For that kind of money, you could just put an SVC IO group in front of your DS8000 and get VP for FREE (see BarryW, I do pay attention)!

In fact, TonyP asserts in his blog that most people wanting Virtual Provisioning have ALREADY put SVC in front of their DS8000's. So this new product is only for the late comers (and those who figured out that adding the price of SVCs to their DS8Ks isn't really "cost effective.")

With a reported 5050+ SVC installations worldwide, I hardly think that "many" DS8K users are also using SVC nor that “few” are not. But Tony has never been much of a stickler for the facts a lengthy track record of exaggerating things a bit.

News Flash: Virtual Provisioning is a standard, basic feature that customers expect on all of their storage platforms. And unlike IBM and Hitachi (and 3PAR) who seem to think that a technology that saves customers money should cost extra, EMC is now providing Virtual Provisioning to all Symmetrix DMX3, DMX4 and V-Max customers at no additional charge!

That's right – Symmetrix VP is Free!

But we can excuse IBM I guess. As David Vaughn, IBM's information infrastructure platform manager, explained to David Raffo of SearchStorage in Mr. Raffo’s coverage of the IBM announcement, the only people left buying DS8000's these days are those customers who were unfortunate enough to have standardized on the platform before they realized IBM wasn't investing in it any more. Oh, and those who run mainframes and have no other IBM-branded solution available. Because according to Mr. Vaughn, all the new open systems business is now going to XIV. [UPDATED to correct attribution]

With IDC documenting a rapid decline in XIV revenues (down from ~$80M ~$52M in Q4'08 to just over $50M $18M in Q1'09), I guess that means that the majority of the enterprise storage business isn't going to IBM at all – a fact that is surely to be accelerated with this whacko pricing strategy for Thin Inflated Provisioning on the DS8K. [UPDATED to correct XIV revenues]

Hey, IBM – we're in a recession here!!!

This is another insightful post from the storage anarchist!


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It should be free for everyone! But only because you just now added it to your stable, right?

You don't get to wait until your company does something and decry everyone else not doing it and make like yours has always been that way. How long ago did EMC make the announcement? A couple of days? If you wrote this a year after EMC started giving it away, I wouldn't shake my head quite so sadly. But my experience with EMC seems to be that something is crap until they add it to their own product, and then it's the best thing since sliced bread.

I do hope everyone else hops on board, and maybe this is the impetus they needed to do so. I'd like it if HDS added it to their arrays, as well as IBM and 3par. Everyone in fact.

Tony Pearson

Barry, I never said any of these things. Please retract immediately.
-- TonyP

the storage anarchist

Tony - I was perhaps a bit liberal with my translation of your statement:

Of course, many people already had this by putting IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) in front, but now those few clients out there without SVC can also achieve benefits of thin provisioning.

But I'll stand by my literary license to equate "many" to "most" and "few" to "those that avoided the extra cost of SVC."

That said, I totally botched the attribution of IBM's positioning of DS8000 and XIV. Indeed, it was David Vaughn, IBM's information infrastructure platform manager who gave that explanation to David Raffo of SearchStorage.com. I have corrected the attribution.

My apologies...

the storage anarchist

Actually, William, it is a free country, and that means I can have a little fun at IBM's expense if I so choose. And of course, nobody can make you enjoy or approve of my shenanigans, either.

While you may not like my style, you obviously keep coming back to see what I have to say and occaisionally to add your comments. Thank you!

Barry Whyte

What I find amusing is the timing of EMCs sudden 'free' nature - wonder who leaked the new feature son DS8K to you so you could quickly turn around and then start poking fun... surely not a coincidence.

the storage anarchist

BarryW - While I am pleased as punch to have had this opportunity to amuse you, I can assure you that indeed the timing is purely coincidental. My post last Friday was entirely capitalizing on Martin's plea for wide striping (and VP) to be free.

And truth be told, my post was aimed at Hitachi and their recent rash of savings claims for DP (that, and because the last thing anyone expected was for IBM to actually add TP to the near-dead DS8K!)

Coincidences happen - I honestly didn't know about the DS8K TP announcement until about 2PM EDT on Monday!

(BTW - you did flash the DS8K team a note on Friday when you saw my announcement, didn't you? I mean, they knew going into the announcement that EMC had repriced VP, right? IBM's spokespersons seemed oddly unprepared for the pricing questions B^D)


But they're not shenanigans are they?

It's this way about everything, always trying to make that cut, make someone bleed a little isn't it, and then laughing as if it was a joke all along. And most readers don't know that you're not being 100% straight with them. Like the April Fools Joke in May(or was it June), it's just not funny...and one could easily see how it might even be a little mean-spirited.

It feels a little too much like EMC's sales force strategy for me....a little high pressure, a little slant...and a little inaccuracy. A calculated ploy fits it nicely.

It's funny when it's not too frequent, but it's become more and more often of late. It takes away the sense of a game (that was fun to watch) and replaces it with the feeling of a cat playing with a mouse...which is only fun for a few minutes until you realize the mouse is not enjoying itself quite so much.


Long story short, I want the fun to watch contest back Barry. This and BOFH are about the only fun reading I get, and you've gotten way too serious on this lately. I know you're under no obligation to go back to it, but I would hazard to guess that the readership has gone down, because the light side of it's gone now. Come on man, let it flow like you used to.


Hey Barry,

I really enjoy reading your blog. I am a competitor of EMC, but respect the brilliant marketing that makes EMC a true market leader in that department.

While I don't want to nitpick at pricing strategies by either EMC or IBM on VP within the Sym or DS8k, I would like to comment on the quote "Oh, and those who run mainframes and have no other IBM-branded solution available. Because according to Mr. Vaughn, all the new open systems business is now going to XIV."

IBM is positioning the XIV against the Sym, although it has no iOS (not even ViOS) support on top of zero AIX support! While it says it supports vmware, it has yet to fall on vmware's HCL (I suspect that will change soon, however.) This product has a way to go before even stepping into the same arena for open systems compared to DS8k or Sym. In fact, I would suspect that the DS5000 will have native iOS support before XIV does.

Thanks again for keeping up a great blog- you have my vote!

Barry Whyte

Rusty, you may want to follow the links on my last blog post to XIV - where you will see it does have IBM i support via VIO layer (same as SVC)as well as a host of updates that greatly increase compatibility.

the storage anarchist

BarryW - I doubt that improved compatibility is going to overcome the fact that revenues and unit sales of XIV are infinitesimal. IDC reports only 183 units sold Q4'08 and 84 in Q1'09. Hardly enough to justify being separated from the "Other" category in IDC's metrics.

Barry Whyte

Hey, I'm not the marketing guy - I'm the "techie dude" - simply correcting Rustys incorrect technical statements :)



I'm not an SVC hater! In fact, I think the product still has a wonderful future along with the upcoming SVC 5.0 release. It was brilliant taking away the limit of IBM disks behind the SVC-EE!

So, the question I must ask you and all IBMers: Why would I sell an XIV when I can sell anything (DS4700 or even a DS3400) behind an SVC? It's cheaper, less power consumption/BTU, MUCH faster, a lot more scalable, for less money than XIV. Yes, the XIV has a slick GUI and better snapshotting, but otherwise, what?


Congrats on catching up to NetApp?

You always seem to leave them out when you talk about thin provisioning. Is it because they've been doing it for AGES now, and it's been free for AGES now?

the storage anarchist

Tim - I'm just trying to maintain a little perspective.

Although I am sure you and the NTAP cohort will vehemently disagree, today's high-end storage customers do not consider NetApp in the same class as today's V-Max (or USP-V for that matter).

And even IBM prefers SVC+XIV over NTAP for its high-end business when they can't sell the aging DS8K (according to David Vaughn, at least).


XIV behind SVC is an abomination. Why would anyone pay twice for the same functionality (90% overlap in terms of what they can do)? XIV with TPC makes even less sense as XIV's inbuilt performance and monitoring easily outperforms TPC? No serious roadmap for DS8100 and their overall roadmap simply doesn't hold up to the most basic scrutiny.

I imagine that Moshe must be extremely unhappy that IBM have managed to turn something with such potential into something of an embarressment. I'm a big fan of the architecture in the XIV but without the support structure in place and the backwards compatibility issues sorted it just isn't possible to justify the purchase of one.

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I am unabashedly an employee of EMC, but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. I am a blogger who works at EMC, not an EMC blogger. This is my blog, and not EMC's. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by EMC and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of EMC.

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