A mild fixation …

February 27, 2015

Here goes with another controversial blog for Product Marketing to ponder …

Customers have a fixation on port numbers. I find it a bit unusual because we tend not to have the same sort of fixation on anything else we do in life. However when it comes to port count on RAID controllers or HBA’s we definitely have a fixation.

Example: I have 2 x SSD – hmm, you don’t have a 2-port controller so I”ll look at 4-port instead. I’ll never even think about looking at 16 port controllers because I’m fixated on the number of drives I currently have. That’s a shame because in fact it’s the 16-port controller that you need, whether you currently recognise it or not.

I’ll come back to that but let’s look at the rest of our life compared to RAID controllers. The speed limit in my country (on the open motorway) is 110km/h. So therefore why do I need a motorbike that does more than 110km/h? Why on earth would I own a Ducati Monster that’s capable of around 265km/h (don’t tell the wife that).
I recently upgraded the suspension on my 4WD – I could have standard height, 30mm lift or 60mm lift? Hmmm, I mostly drive on the road so I could stick with the standard height, but guess what – the wife now needs a step ladder to get into the car because it’s had the 60mm lift :-)

So I have no fixation on the limits imposed by the law, or the limits imposed by common-sense when it comes to my vehicles, but I certainly have one (as do most customers) when it comes to choosing RAID cards.

You guessed it – I’m banging on about the 71605E again – a 16 port “entry” card that is absolutely perfect for RAID 10 on SSD – fast, capable and cheap(ish). But do customers ever look at it? No, because it’s 16 ports and they are fixated on 4 and 8 port controllers. So I own the vehicles that suit my needs, not vehicles that are dictated to me by random numbers imposed by the law or my wife’s height. Funny enough that’s the way we should look at controllers – what suits my “performance” requirements, not what suits my “numbers” requirements.

If our marketing department was based in Australia we’d run an ad campaign entitled: “who gives a *^%&$ how many ports the thing has?”. Can’t really see that ever happening in this company, but at the end of the day that’s what needs to be embedded in customer mindsets – stop thinking about the number of drives you have, and start thinking about what controller has the processing performance to handle your requirements. This is mostly addressed at SSD users because while they have made up their mind to use a faster device, they still haven’t changed their mindset about which controller card they should use – and they need to big time.

Using my bike as analogy again … I can buy cheap tyres, or I can buy ridiculously expensive Pirelli’s that are far more capable than my riding ability – and guess what I buy (certainly not the cheap and nasty) – I want to give my bike the ability to perform to it’s full potential – even if the rider isn’t as capable as he once was :-)

So stop thinking port count … and start thinking performance (7 and 8 series).



I feel the need for (read) speed …

February 23, 2015

I was sitting up ridiculously late the other night chatting to my PMC mate in Germany who has developed a customer test lab where vendors send us their latest and greatest and he puts them through their paces (more about the lab in future blogs).

While chewing the fat and discussing all things technical, he mentioned to me the new Toshiba PX03SN range of SSDs he’s been testing. Are they fast I ask? 1100MB/sec read speed was the answer.

STOP. Have I fallen asleep during this phone call and am now dreaming of SSD or did I hear that correctly?

Yes, I heard it correctly. 1100MB/sec read speed. OK, the write speed is only 380MB/sec, but who cares … with 100,000 4K IOP read speed and 26K IOP write speed, these things are amazing. Of course you need a Series 8 12Gb controller to make these work, and yes 6 of them will saturate the controller, but it’s not actually the controller that saturates – it’s the PCIe bus. Imagine that, PCIe 3.0 is not fast enough already. No idea when we’ll see 4.0 if ever, but 3.0 (8 lanes) has a maximum throughput of around 6,600MB/sec, which we used to need 16 drives to easily hit. My German mate is telling me he can do this straight out of the box with 6 drives now.

I wonder how fast one of these things will boot Windows? :-)



The KISS principle …

February 12, 2015

(regarding product lines that is) …

Was just reading an excellent article – a bit dated time-wise but the story never gets old …

Why does this come to mind right now? Two recent personal issues have shown Apple’s direction to be the right one in my mind, and a lot of other organisations might take note.

1. The daughter’s phone was stolen. That in itself is traumatic enough for a 20-year-old, but dealing with the phone company on deciding a new plan made my blood boil.

2. My mother’s electricity provider. Mum asked me to look at her provider and make sure she was getting the best deal (she wants to change to another provider because my son works for that provider and she’d like to support him) – not the greatest of reasons but who am I to argue. So off to the electricity provider in question to look at what “deal” best suits.

So by now I’m ready to kill the first person who gives me a choice. Luckily I cook dinner in our house, because if my wife asked me whether I wanted x or y, I think I’d end up in goal.

The premise of the Techcrunch article is simple, even if a bit controversial. People want choice? Rubbish, and I 100% agree with that – people want a product that does most of the things they want very well, reliably and simply, and they will either put up with, gripe and whine, or just ignore the things that product does not do (ie they will make do). When I walk into a fast food vendor (any one, take your choice), I look at the board above the counter and just glaze over. Normally by the time I’ve absorbed the first set of choices, some clever electronic screen has rolled over to a completely new set of choices – so I end up ignoring the whole thing and buying what I normally buy because I just can’t be bothered trying to work it all out.

I get where the phone and electricity companies are coming from … they want to use the FUD principle (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) to make you spend more than you actually need to or should – they are experts at extortion (they like to call it customer service but in reality it’s extortion). But what about everyone else? What about Adaptec? We have an awful lot of products – with the aim of course to make a product for every conceivable niche market we can sell in to.But do people really want such a range? In my experience, no, but as you can tell I don’t make the product marketing decisions around here.

When I go food shopping (which I do regularly), I can go to the supermarket that has 47-different kinds of preserves, or I can go to the German-owned worldwide organisation that has 1 type of strawberry jam – yes folks, there is only one of everything. You guessed it, I spend my life in the simple supermarket because it makes my life a whole lot easier. I prefer the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) nearly every time.

So let me know your thoughts … do you really need such a large product range from any organisation that you deal with? Or are you like me when I’m asked whether I want a cup of coffee or tea? … “Yes please” does it every time :-).

Wonder if this one will get published.