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Tech kingpins: Your kit would be tastier with a spot of open source

Come on EMC, open-source ViPR

Storagebod As storage infrastructure companies try to move to a more software oriented world, they are having to try different things to try to grab our business.

In today's world, tin is not the differentiator and they need to compete head-on with open source – which might mean they have to take a more open-source type approach. Of course, they will argue that they have been moving this way with some of their products for some time, but said products have tended to be outside of their key infrastructure market.

The only way I can see software-defined products like EMC's ViPR gaining any kind of penetration will be for the big companies that make them to actually open-source them. There is a strong demand for a ViPR-like product, especially in the arena of storage management, but it is far too easy for EMC's competitors to ignore it and subtly block it. So for it to gain any kind of traction, it will need open-sourcing.

The same goes for ScaleIO, which is competing against a number of open-source products.

If EMC is not quite ready for such a radical step, perhaps the first move could be a commercial free-to-use licence – none of these mealy mouthed, free-to-use for non-production workloads but a proper "you can use this and you can put it into production at your own risk" type licence. If it breaks and you need support, these are the places you can get support, but if it really breaks and you *really* need to to pick up the phone and talk to someone, then you need to pay.

It might that if you want the pretty interface that you need to pay but I’m not sure about that either.

Of course, I’m not just aiming this blogpost at EMC, I'd also like to see IBM take this approach with GPFS. The open-source products are beginning to be good enough for many, certainly outside of some core performance requirements. Ceph, for example, is really beginning to pick up some momentum, especially now that RedHat has bought Inktank.

More and more, we are living with open-source infrastructure and infrastructure products that are "good enough". The pressure on costs continues for many of us and hence "good enough" often becomes "will do" as we are expected to deliver against tighter budgets and tighter timescales.

If you can make it easier for me, by, for example, allowing my teams to start implementing without a huge upfront price negotiation, the long-term sale will have less friction. If you allow customers to all intents and purposes use your software like open source – because to be frank, most companies who utilise open-source are not changing the code and could care less whether the source is available – you find that this will play well in the long term.

The infrastructure market is changing. It becomes more of a software play every week... and software is a very different play to infrastructure hardware. ®

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