Mating Season

All of us in India know that the dark clouds during the monsoons bring the best out of the peacocks. They gloriously spread their beautiful feathers and call out for their mates.  This wonderful sight and the mating cries let you know that someone is being wooed. Something similar to this has been happening in the Storage world in the recent past.

Unless you had taken a vacation and gone off to Tibet to meditate in peace, you would have heard about the mating dance performed by EMC and NetApp. The object of their affection: Data Domain. NetApp started the process by spreading it dollar feathers.  And when you spread billions of them, it is bound to affect the opposite sex positively. No wonder Data Domain was impressed. But the Storage jungle is a cruel place and you cannot be assured that the initial impression created will be enough to tie the knot. EMC, which heard NetApps mating call, immediately responded with another impressive display of its own feathers. And it spread its feathers wider than NetApp. This confused Data Domain, which had a soft corner for NetApp!! NetApp had to respond. It spread it feathers a bit more and told Data Domain that it has something called stock option, which will enable more feathers to sprout in the future and the display will be even more glorious. EMC refuted that assertion and felt a bird in hand is worth two in the bush!! For some time, the spread of the feathers remained constant and it was time for mating calls. ‘You will fit well in my family’, ‘We have synergy’, ‘Govt will not approve of your marriage’, ‘It’s is a wonderful family’ and so and so forth. By all indications, Data Domain’s soft corner for NetApp still existed and things were at an impasse. Then EMC did what everyone was expecting it to do. It added more feathers to its already glittering display and that ensured Data Domain swooned in its favor. NetApp had to beat a retreat.

All in all, the whole mating process enlivened the Storage industry and specifically the blogsphere. How long can you keep on discussing if thin provisioning is important or how to save money through virtualization etc? You need something to stir things up and the Data Domain drama was godsend for many. Experts spent a lot of time analyzing what this would mean to EMC, what this would mean to NetApp and from the sidelines were predicting the winner. Now that EMC has won, people started wondering if EMC has overpaid for Data Domain, whether it will clash with already existing products etc etc. But as we all know once integrated, Data Domain becomes EMC family and family quarrels are never as interesting as a mating fight or a lover’s tiff. To be fair, EMC, by all reports, has done an excellent job of integrating their acquisitions and I am sure this will also work out well. The central question has been whether it is worth paying so much for DeDup, which according to many, is a feature and not a product. Time, as usual, will provide us the answer.

That it was a great mating was evident when HP, without any drama, bought IBRIX, which is into scalable parallel file systems. HP has been partnering with IBRIX on various deals. LSI Logic bought ONStor, which makes Clustered NAS solutions. Both IBRIX and ONStor have the scale out capability and the general thinking is that everyone is targetting acquisitions aimed at fortifying their positions in the Cloud Computing space. Let’s wait and see how things turn out in the future. Meanwhile, lets hope such things happen to enliven all of us once in while. This is one area where we wouldn’t mind some duplication, would we? !!

Time to Invest. Time to help.

If you are thinking that I am talking about investing in stock market, forget it. I have never been an expert in that area. What I am suggesting now is to invest in yourself. There cannot be a better time.

Times are indeed tough now. Especially for people  in the IT industry. There is a sense of concern all around and people are very unsure about how long their jobs will last. For some, the uncertainty has ended, but unfortunately, so has the job. We hear companies coming up with many ‘schemes’ in order to keep the costs low. All of you would have read about how Satyam (Tech Mahindra now) is going to keep people on bench by paying them their basic salary.

These tough times can also be the time to invest. In yourself. It is time to upgrade your skills. What the current situation has taught people is that only people whose skills are valued in the market place have a chance for survival. So if you are a project manager, maybe you should get a PMI certification. If you are technically oriented, maybe you should see how your can upgrade your skills further and keep in touch with the latest happenings in your area. What I have seen in recent times is that people who are technically well qualified have not had a problem moving out of their current job and getting a new one. Though times may be tough for people financially , I would still urge people to invest some money and lot of time to upgrade their skills now. This is the best investment that can be made for the future. People who are enterprising in nature, should find this a good opportunity to start off on their own. When you are on your own, any time is tough time. Ask me :)

Tough times also means people need help. I have had lot of people, who have either lost their jobs or whose jobs are under threat contact me. I have tried my best to put them in touch with consultants that I know and referred them to friends I know in other companies. Given the sort of social stigma that gets attached to a loss of job, I think it is very important that we help out our friends in this hour of need. Do let people know about job opportunities that you come across. Put in a word for your friend or former colleague wherever you can. I can assure that every little gesture of yours in this direction will be highly appreciated by all concerned.

Let us hope the current situation is a temperory one. But don’t bet on it. Work smart, work hard and invest in upgrading your skills in order to beat these tough times. Or be bold enough to chart your own path.