I was a psychology major in college. I picked up Computer Applications only because I had to fill my schedule with electives and it seemed like a good fall back plan. A buddy of mine said I would at least give myself an option to get a job in a hot field and I could always go back to grad school or law school. Turns out I did go back to school (business) but I'm still fascinated by people and why we make the choices that we do.
Technology is a choice - how much or how little you want to consume of it. I've seen a number of articles talking about how human behavior is shaped by technology. Hard to disagree with their specific points but, it's way too Pavlovian for me. Although, walk into a conference and you'll see highly trained technologists react (almost sub-consciously) to every bleating whistle, tweet, bell, and ringtone. Might as well set up drool buckets. In spite of this, I don't think iPhones or laptops or tablets shape our behavior. They're clearly a response to how we would like to behave. Seems like a no-brainer but most of the articles I read talk about the merits of the technology. Little or no time is spent talking about if people would feel the technology offers a personal benefit to them.
Example: As an SE I thought I had just given my best presentation on the glories of Snapshots - ever. I had hit all the value props - fast, zero performance hit, instant restores, space savings. It was kind of a "ready, fire, aim" type of presentation so we circled back around to what was really the issue. Turns out, the customer had spent the last two weekends and the previous night wrestling with restores. His wife was getting pretty ticked off that the job was impacting home life. All the customer wanted was a solution that could get him home on time. Everything I had said up to that point: no impact. I never connected the dots between the technology and his motivation. I could have spent the last 45 minutes talking about windmills as long as the punchline was "and it will make sure you get home to the family early."
I'm not discounting analysis on technology trends, specifications, TCO, benchmarks, etc. I think good ideas succeed when they address human motivation. When I joined NetApp (Network Appliance) the catch phrase used to be "Fast, Simple, Reliable." I still like that because it was very easy to make a connection with the customer. Nobody wanted slow, complicated and unpredictable. It was easy to plug in to the sentiment that if you can make my work life easier and less complicated; that it would do what you said it would do, I would have time to do what I really loved to do - whatever that was.
So, with that in mind, here are a couple technologies I think are good ideas doomed to fail:
- Hard Drives - great idea. Fantastic idea. They have served us well for decades. Flash changes everything and the biggest casualty will be hard drives. I don't think they will go completely away. There's always the consumer market! But, hard drives are about as reliable as they are going to get. Data integrity isn't keeping pace with increased density. Random access times haven't changed. You don't see storage too many storage startups using HDD platforms anymore. The number of flash vendors has quintupled over the past few years. Enterprise storage will soon be all-flash. It's not because the technology is cool. It's a cost thing. Why pay more for less? Unless we start thinking that hard drives are a cool vanity purchase, HDD are on the way out.
- Automated Storage Tiering - First, flash kills ATS as we know it today. Why tier disks if all you have is one tier: flash? Caching still makes sense. ATS does not. Second, like all of its ILM predecessors, ATS sounds really cool on paper but at the end of the day people will take a pass. We can't be bothered. It's an atomic ice cream scoop. It's football season and I'd rather watch a game than figure out tiers of storage or read through a few hundred pages explaining how to carefully set up what is supposed to be the technology equivalent of self-leveling cement. If it were just as easy as "just add water" and pour, great. It's not. And, the savings just aren't there. Storage depreciates faster than you can tier. Eventually people get tired of generating reports justifying a decision that should have been self-evident. That's usually when you see someone belch forth a TCO report. Anyone download a TCO report from any vendor on any technology that says their technology is a bitch to manage and costs more in the long-run? Nope - they don't exist. Tiering won't compete with the lower cost and "Fast, Simple, Reliable" message of flash.
- Thin Provisioning - we're lying to ourselves. I know that's not in the marketing literature anywhere but, that's all this is. It's technology fiction. We've invented a technology to help us get over trust and honesty issues. We're essentially lying to our users in order to drive utilization up. At some point we get tired of lying to ourselves. The truth is so much easier to keep track of. We'll eventually get tired of this. Someone at the top will just say, "Look. If utilization has been at 80% for the past three years and nobody seems to be worse for the wear, can't we just give people what they actually need and report on what they actually use?"
Just a few ideas that I think will go the way of Betamax.