Storage Battle for Marketshare Gets Childish

Firstly, some disclosure: I do a lot of work with NetApp kit, and have a close working relationship with them. In the past, I’ve had a close working relationship with Sun Professional Services. SunOS was the first Unix I learned on. I even owned some Sun stock once.

Sun have made a play into the storage market of late, firstly with their purchase of StorageTek, and lately with their new Fishworks storage appliances. Good on them. I’ve long liked Sun’s hardware, and they have some really smart people working for them. I hope they do well.

Similarly, I think NetApp have some good products, and they seem to be doing pretty well in the market too. Good for them.

Neither company is perfect, nor are their products. Sun seem to have brilliant people come up with stuff that sounds awesome, only for the execution to somehow fall flat. NIS. Their webserver suite that changed names 17 zillion times. The D1000 (or was it the A1000?) RAID mangler manager. The E10k. Java. All I could do was sigh. I wanted their stuff to be awesome, and it very nearly was. Except for the bits that sucked.

Similarly, NetApp have done things that puzzled me in the past. A single tty for the console. No RBAC. A flawed ssh1 implementation, and no ssh2. No SNMP v2c. Stuff that works in base mode, but not with MultiStore. Space reserve disabled on SnapMirror destinations. Causes of frustration, but nothing fatal.

It seems that the two companies are on a collision course, not least because of the spat over patents relating to WAFL/ZFS. Jonathan Schwartz has posted some stuff on his blog that sounded a bit, well, childish to me. A bit of a hissy fit. Dave Hitz’ responses on his blog were somewhat more reserved. Now we’ve got Bryan Cantrill (who I’ve met and admire greatly; he’s amazingly smart and has built some awesome things) and Mike Eisner trading petty jibes.

It all strikes me as a bit childish, but I guess everyone wants to believe that their stuff is just so much better than the competition. That’s what drives people to make better and better products. It’d be nice if they spent more of their time doing just that, and competing for their customer’s dollar, rather than just spreading FUD about one another.

I just find it tiresome these days. I must be getting old.

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