Service Expectations, Vanessa Williams, Intentional Leakage, and Crystal Meth

Yes, I know it's more unrelated elements than usual, but it's been a while.

Let's start with the one I didn't mention: Dr. Dickstein. Completely real person, completely real name. It would only be better if he were my urologist instead of a liver doctor.

It's 2013, and yet while good old Doc Dick is only 11 miles from my Oncologist's office, because they are from different medical "entities" (sharing only a common insurance company), the CT scan I need to do for one cannot be seen by the other without me manually bringing a copy of said results to the woman who manages my blood. Gross thought, yes, but not as gross as the realities of the medical establishment's inability to share pertinent patient information without reverting back 30 years. I have higher expectations of the service delivery than that.

The cloud? Ha! good one. I can share my own files in the cloud with anyone I so choose, but not the trillion dollar medical establishment. Nope, for that I need to hop in the car and drag along ANALOG films. Do they even make analog anything anymore??

Seems we have a large hole between technological/social capabilities and desires and old industrial habits. It isn't about the tech or the desire—it's about politics, stupidity, and the human trait that abhors change. Politics speaks for itself (poorly). Stupidity in that we allow it to occur. Change doesn't happen because people are afraid (and dumb, and lazy, and political). It ends up in a bad customer experience no matter how you slice it. Worse than that, it's massively inefficient, so it costs more. We all complain about the cost of healthcare, but we are part and parcel to allowing the system to perpetuate itself.

In this example, IT can deliver—without question—but the LINE OF BUSINESS (the medical establishment) cannot agree on what it wants. So IT has its hands tied.

Normally, at least in a real business, the LOB is far better at articulating its desires (as silly as they may be sometimes) and IT has the problem of reacting. But not in this case.

Which gets me to leakage (again, I'm currently not having any issues in this area that I know of). We used to worry about data leakage as a security threat (and we still should), but for the IT industry itself, you need to worry about it as a threat to your livelihood.

When Netapp competes on a deal with EMC and HP, they all know the game. Chuck is buying 2PB for an SAP app and everyone involved knows what's at stake—2PB. Competing with a known entity on a known requirement is, well, easy.

Competing with a ghost is hard.

ESG Analyst Terri McClure tells me that recent research tells her that a HUGE percentage of file data is going to leave an organization (mostly without them knowing) and will live out on Box/Dropbox, etc.—which really means Amazon. It just "happens." No one in IT puts it out to bid—so EMC, NTAP, or HP never have an opportunity to compete for that business—it just disappeared.

There are still a million valid reasons why companies who care about this data should stop it from happening—but unfortunately, the train has left the station. It won't stop. It's bad for IT (reduces their value) and it's bad for the industry I've come to love. Hell, it's bad for me, and nobody wants that!

The IT industry needs to adapt its products and services to enable the IT buyer they so badly covet to provide all the things the USER wants and needs from these external cloudy providers INTERNALLY—chop chop. Otherwise we will wake up one day (SOON) and realize half of the data in the corporate world no longer resides within the corporation's control. Instead, it's on Amazon. Holy moly.

It's a fascinating market dynamic. FOREVER in IT, the company dictated the usage rules. "You do this, Mr. employee, if you want that, you have to go here. Use this machine. Use this VPN. Use this, or die!" The company dictated employee behavior.

Kiss those days goodbye. Now the employee dictates that same behavior—and the company can't keep up. Worse, those behaviors, for the first time ever, are CONSUMER-based, not "corporate" based. Thanks, Mr. Jobs! By making every 9 year old competent to do anything they ever wanted via a handheld device, somehow (osmosis) us old folk were able to figure out that doing things with a computer or data really doesn't have to be HARD! And we like it. Easy baby. Just work.

So I hereby proclaim that the single largest threat to the storage infrastructure business is NOT any known or unknown tech competitor—it's your own people, using consumer easy access methods, to some cheap and easy cloud service in the sky.

And here's the double whammy for industry—your only hope is that YOUR BUYER—the STORAGE GUYS—are able to remain relevant, but alas while I love you dearly, your business does not. Your business couldn't care less if they push everything that spins out to someone else. As soon as they are comfortable that they can, they will. Unless you show them that you ADD value—you deliver a better, more secure service at a better price—plus you figure out something else that the cloud heads can't do (I don't know what that is). It won't even be ok just to be "as good" or "as fast"—you have to be BETTER—and that's going to be hard.

The storage buyer WILL evolve or perish. As will the industry as we know it. It's just a matter of time. Both the buy side and the sell side must change RADICALLY.

You know I'm always right about this stuff, eventually. Think about it.

Which gets me to my final (not really) point: Crystal Meth.

After watching every single episode of Sons of Anarchy with the wife, in a firestorm of a week, we needed to find our next television conquest. (I'm now a huge fan of consuming every episode of whatever show I've elected to become addicted to in one shot. What a great way to watch television!) Breaking Bad is it.

It's fantastic, but that's not the point. The point is this normal high school chemistry teacher, through a mad series of events, ends up "cooking meth" (manufacturing crystal meth, a not very good for anyone drug). He manufactures what is considered the best stuff on the planet. His "partner," a snarky shithead punk who he taught years ago, learns to cook meth as well. They end up competing.

The "artist" clings to the belief that his product is superior—which it is—and because of that, the shithead will fail miserably. But that isn't the case. The product the loser produces looks the same, provides the same exact effect, and while a very rare person might care—the mass market doesn't.

This is the bane of the tech manufacturing perfectionist. Even today, there are still established successful (and unsuccessful) companies that cling to the notion that because their stuff is built so much better than the other guys, that they have a RIGHT to win. They don't.

Maybe NTAP makes the best filer on the planet, but people are putting their files in Egnyte out in the cloud. Oracle builds the only database that matters, except half of Wall St. is already using No SQL solutions for something or another.

Today it is NOT about the best technical solution. It's about the best MARKET solution. I say this to all of you, but specifically to the endless array of Israeli geniuses soon to enter my conference room with the best uber-photonic cheese slicer ever made. The world has moved on. Give the people what they want—and what they want is not MORE TECH for tech's sake—they want tech hidden to make whatever the TASK they want to complete seem brain dead simple.

Kids are hard. Relationships are hard. Economics is hard. That's stuff worth worrying about. Advancing the technology for enabling thinner cheese slices is not something I want to think about. I don't care.

SIDENOTE: I totally met one of my two long-term fantasy women recently, the absolutely magnificent Vanessa Williams. At 50, I still drool over her. Unfortunately, I think I drooled on her, which apparently is not a compliment, even in Mexico. I have the picture to prove it. Now, If I can find a way to meet Elle McPherson, my life will be complete, and I'll probably drop dead. With a massive, drooly smile on my face.

Topics: IT Infrastructure