Oracle's "Game Changer" for Data Center Storage Reminiscent of Super Bowls Past

A couple of weeks ago, Oracle did a controlled “leak” of product news, mysteriously declaring that it would soon announce, to quote the company, “A Game-Changing New Technology for Datacenter Storage.”

Earlier this week, the company announced its “game changer”: a new 5TB tape drive.

Oracle ;s quot;Game Changer quot; for Data Center Storage Reminiscent of Super Bowls PastHow an improvement on a 60-year-old technology (happy 60th, tape!) could be a “game changer” seems somewhat hyperbolic, particularly when one considers that it’s a game nobody wants to play anymore. And as we approach Super Bowl XLV (that’s 45, if you’re not up on your Roman numerals), we’re reminded of the game 10 years ago when the Baltimore Ravens destroyed the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV not by changing the game, but by playing a completely different game.

Baltimore had built one of the greatest defenses in NFL history (perhaps the ’86 Bears were better, but that’s about it) and was playing a different game from recent Super Bowl winners – all of which were built around Hall of Fame-caliber quarterbacks like Elway, Favre, Warner, Young and Aikman. Baltimore had Trent Dilfer lining up under center, a man who threw more interceptions than touchdowns in his career. But it didn’t matter – because Baltimore was playing a different game from the rest of the league. Rather than building a gaudy offense around a gun-slinging quarterback, it built a defense that was so good that it rendered its offense practically irrelevant. As long as the offense didn’t do anything catastrophically stupid, the Ravens would win. And that’s how Trent Dilfer became arguably the worst quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl.

And now back to Oracle. A 5TB tape drive could have been a game changer back around Super Bowl XXXV. But today, the world is less interested in changing the old storage game as it is moving to a new game – a game where storage virtualization software abstracts and commoditizes all forms of storage hardware. And just like Baltimore’s defense rendered its offense practically irrelevant, storage virtualization software renders storage media practically irrelevant, because it makes no difference what you use – tape, disk and all their permutations. You can simply select the best solution to meet your price/performance needs from any vendor you want. Or better yet, you can get more mileage out of your old storage devices and spend nothing at all. This effectively ends the old storage game with its vendor lock-in and budget-busting forklift upgrades.

So when companies today make claims about “changing the game,” you should ask yourself “what game are they talking about? The one I want to play, or the one they want me to play.” Great teams don’t get that way by changing the game other teams want them to play. They become great by playing a different game all together.

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