3.009: whither the ds8700, or hath it withered already?
My followers know that I've been predicting the demise IBM's enterprise storage platforms (both DS6000 and DS8000 series) for several years now. And though I've been chastised for competitor bashing, I remain convinced that IBM will soon withdraw the DS8000 from marketing once and for all, just as they have the DS6000.
The product just isn't competitive in today's world, even with the unfair advantage IBM enjoys with its tight linkage to it mainframes and servers.
Supporting evidence for the impending demise comes from many directions and sources. Just this week I heard about a competitive deal Down Under where IBM withdrew the DS8700 from a competitive bid in the middle of the selection process. Pressed for an explanation, the new VMAX customer was told that the DS8700 would be EOL by year-end 2010, and IBM didn't want to propose a dead-end product.
How considerate of them!
Now, indeed, this is hearsay, and I can't promote any evidence as to the accuracy of this report. But it is another piece that seems to fit the emerging picture that IBM is winding down the DS8700 as we speak. IDC StorageTracker data shows a rather protracted decline in market share for the DS8000, one that began with the introduction of the Symmetrix VMAX back in April 2009.
In fact, if you compare the IDC StorageTracker data for EMC Symmetrix, IBM DS8K and Hitachi USP-V/VM for the 4 quarters beginning Q2'09, you'll see that VMAX share of the "high end array" pie has grown significantly, while both IBM and Hitachi have lost share dramatically.
Yes, to the attentive observer, it is pretty clear that the DS8K is on its deathbed – at least as we know it today.
is it dying, or just no longer relevant?
Suspicions abound that the DS8K's replacement will be a Frankenstein concoction of SVC heads in front of some form of RBOD – perhaps the newly Moshe-less XIV, or perhaps using the LSI-sourced DS5000 instead (which, if true, would surely be cause for Moshe's sudden departure from Big Blue). Given the pure silence and tantalizing hints from @bwhyte over the past 7 months, I think it is pretty likely that the SVC team is up to something.
Others suggest that the DS8700 won't actually be retired, but instead it will only be used/bundled with IBM z-Series Mainframes. Talk about deja-vu: EMC started this whole external storage market in response to IBM's channel-attached storage lock-in over 21 years ago! But indeed, this is pretty much the only space where IBM has been repeatedly successful – bundling their inferior storage with the mainframe is a pretty good lock-out strategy. Except, of course, most customers are smart enough to know that there is no such thing as "free storage." When customers decouple the purchase they almost always realize that VMAX is the better platform for their mainframe storage.
whoa now, mr. fud-meister!
Before you swing the FUD-axe at my head, humor me one last round: IBM's own TonyP has laid down his own rather disingenuous swath of "FUDder Sauce" in the middle of his coverage of the storage-related components IBM's z10 announcement this week:
One program that takes advantage of this new zDDB feature already is Innovation's [FDRSOS], which I pronounce "fudder sauce". If you are an existing FDRSOS customer, now is a good time to get rid of any EMC or HDS disk and replace with the new IBM DS8700 system.
Once again Tony demonstrates just how out-of-touch with the realities of the market he is: FDR has been supporting Symmetrix arrays with FDRSOS for more than a decade. You can see the details on their web site here: FDRSOS for EMC Storage; one of EMC's engineers that worked with IDP even showed me the original documentation dated back in 1997!
Try to keep up now, Tony!
Tony also points out the DS8700's Full Disk Encryption and Easy Tier features for the z10, even though these two features cannot even be used together! By Tony's own admission, FDE is limited to specific 15K FC drives, and is not available for either Flash or SATA devices on the DS8700 platform!
I guess that's why they call it Easy Tier!
All in good fun, but I'll go out on a limb here and predict that Tony's post is probably a last-gasp attempt to hold up interest in the DS8700 whilst the finishing touches on its replacement are polished up. Given the volume of Tony's FUDder Sauce, I'm guessing that the replacement project is falling behind schedule – perhaps they've found some sort of data corruption issue in the SVC platform or something…
But I will predict that we will ALL know a lot more by the middle of October…
Meanwhile, don't let IBM sucker your company into buying any more Dead-End DS8700's. And since EVERYONE knows that Hitachi intends to replace the USP-V late this year (or early next), the same goes for their kit.
Yes, my friends, In this market full of has-beens and wanna-bees, VMAX stands alone, ready to meet your enterprise's storage needs.