As my regular readers (thanks Mom!) will know, I'm a stickler for semantic accuracy....or at least I try to be [and it's mortifying when I make the sorts of simple mistakes that I'm constantly warning others of - like a particularly interesting e-mail exchange I'm having right now on the meaning of SSD, which I hope is the exception that proves the rule!]. I also like the weird and/or arcane real world parallels that help us all to remember important lessons. I was struck by one last week - by chance it was at SNW, but (as you'll see) it could have been any number of places.
Lining up for my morning caffeine in Dallas I was enjoying the simple pleasures of a ritual - you order, you pay, you walk a few paces to collect your drink and then you stare around looking for the condiments; once there (assuming you want these items), you add something white - taking care that the person before you hasn't left the top unscrewed too much - and maybe something sweet in one of those small colored paper sachets. I reach and grab a 'yellow' packet, as is my wont....if pushed I could tell you that it's called "Splenda," but I pretty much go by color-code...because, prior to my paradigm-shifting-revelation last week, that is how us aficionados of artificial sweetener do it.
Let me educate the uninitiated: first there was 'pink stuff' - that was "Sweet 'n' Low", the first of the mega-brands in this area. Once the 'blue stuff' (that's "Equal" as you might know) came along, many folks shifted to that. And in the last handful of years there's been another color shift, this time to - yup, you guessed it - the yellow/Splenda variety. (I believe there's now also a new variety called "Stevia" that I think has chosen to go green; but you don't yet see it much in coffee places - maybe because it's not as satisfyingly artificial as the others!? - and anyhow this is getting me way off point!)
So, there I was adding my 'yellow' to my coffee when - shock! horror! - something made me actually look at the packet and, lo-and-behold, it was actually Equal! OMG - Equal in a yellow packet?! Well, yes and no - it was indeed Equal brand of course, but it wasn't just a repackaging to catch the unwary, color-brand-conscious consumer....on the back of the sachet it helpfully states that in terms of ingredients it is the "same sweetener as Splenda."
And the link to storage and IT? Maybe it's obvious? You may - in fact you invariably do - see things in various aspects of life that look, sound, or seem the same. But don't rely on this, as a buying or using guide. 'Yellow storage' might be obviously different from 'pink storage' for sure, but even the two varieties of yellow storage might be different.....yes, even when the ingredients are the same. I'm sure that Splenda and yellow-Equal are overall pretty similar, but even in this case I don't know about (for instance) the vendor's support, pricing policy, or overall portfolio and value to my business. Just because 'storage X' has 'thin provisioning, deduplication, an easy to use GUI and SSD', it doesn't mean any of those things are exactly the same in 'storage Y,' which also boasts 'thin provisioning, deduplication, an easy-to-use GUI and SSD.' All this terms are generic descriptors of a grouping of similar, but potentially significantly different, things. Maybe it really doesn't matter too much to most people which sweetener they put in their coffee....but precisely what you get for your storage $ - in terms of value, functions, application-suitability, interoperability and support (just for starters) matters a whole hill of beans!
You can read Mark's other blog entries at The Business of Storage.