Sunday, 5 August 2007


I've been a little quiet on the blog front over the last week, mainly because I've been away on business and I didn't take my laptop ( :-( ). I travelled "lite", which I'm not normally used to doing and that meant taking only the essentials. In fact, as I didn't have any checked baggage, I forgot about a corkscrew in my washbag, which was summarily extracted from me at the security checks at Heathrow.

Anyway enough of that, I've also had another issue to resolve attempting to link two Cisco fabrics via FCIP. It's a frustrating problem which has taken up more of my time than I would like and I still haven't managed to resolve it. Both fabrics already successfully move data via FCIP links, will connect to each other (and the end devices are visible and logged in) but the initiator HBA can't see any targets in the same zone.

These sorts of problems become annoying to resolve as most vendors take you through the level 1 process of problem determination (which translates to "you are an idiot and have configured it wrong") then level 2 ("Oh, perhaps there is a problem, send is 300GB of diagnostics, traces, configurations, date of birth, number of previous girlfriends etc") who get you to "try this command" - usually things you've already tried to no avail, because you actually know what you are talking about.

I'm almost at level 3 ("we've no idea what's causing the problem, we will have to pass to the manufacturer"). Hopefully at this stage I will start to get some results. Does anyone out there have a way to bypass all this first level diagnostics nonsense?

The other thing that caught my eye this week was the comment on Netapp and their targets miss. There is lots of speculation on what has occurred; here's my (two penn'orth/two cents).

Netapp had a great product for the NAS space, there's no doubting that. They made a great play of expanding into the Enterprise space when NAS-based storage became widely accepted. Some features are great - even something as simple as snapshots, replication and flexclones. However I think they now have some fundamental issues.

  1. The Netapp base product is not an Enterprise storage array for NAS/FC/iSCSI. It doesn't scale to the levels of DMX-4 and USP. I think it is a mistake to continue to sell the Netapp appliance against high end arrays. Those of us who deploy USP/DMX technology regularly know what I mean.
  2. The original Netapp technology is hitting a ceiling in terms of its useful life. The latest features customers demand, such as multi-node clustering can't be achieved with the base technology (hence the Spinnaker acquisition).
  3. The product feature set is too complicated. There are dozens of product features which overlap each other and make it very difficult to determine when developing a solution, which is the right to choose (some have fundamental restrictions in the way they work that I found even Netapp weren't clear about).
  4. Netapp developed a culture of the old IBM - that is to say expecting their customers to purchase their products and deriding them if they didn't choose them, attempting to resurrect the old addage "No-one Ever Got Fired for Buying IBM" to "No-one should get fired for buying Netapp".
I think I found point 4 most difficult to deal with; Netapp seemed to think they had a right to be No. 1 selection, almost forcing technical people to have to justify why *not* to buy Netapp.

Perhaps a little humility is long overdue.


Cedric said...

A way to bypass these first level support ?

Get a good Cisco account manager and escalate, that's probably the best way.

An other way is by getting CCIE Certification from Cisco.

Open Systems Guy said...

Now imagine an IBM rep selling Netapp ;)