It’s all about executing the story

I have been in hibernation mode, with a bit of “writer’s block”.

I woke up in Bangalore in India at 3am, not having adjusted myself to the local timezone. Plenty of things were on my mind but I can’t help thinking about what’s happening in the enterprise storage market after the Gartner Worldwide External Controller-Based report for 4Q12 came out  last night. Below is the consolidated table from Gartner:

Just a few weeks ago, it was IDC with its Worldwide Disk Storage Tracker and below is their table as well:

Both reports painted the same landscape, with EMC slowly but surely become a storage behemoth because competitors like IBM, HP, NetApp and HDS are not doing enough to win against EMC. In fact, some vendors like HP, Oracle and Dell are really tripping themselves over if you look at the numbers on both tables. HP is probably the worst of the lot, reporting -7.4% revenue loss in the IDC table and a whopping -13.7% in the Gartner report! What the hell is HP doing? Running scared?

2 good HP Malaysia buddies of mine, both with more than 15 years in HP, have left. I have been hearing HP storage guys in Malaysia desperately trying to leave, and knowing a couple of seniors who have left to join Fujitsu and Netapp Malaysia respectively.

And about a month ago, I went for an interview for the HP Malaysia storage country manager job. HP and IBM Malaysia aren’t really the type of companies I would like work for. I prefer start-ups who can afford my screw-ups (ha ha) but that’s how we grow together. We fail, we learn, and we grow. That was my experience when I was the first employee of NetApp Malaysia. (Well, technically I was the second employee because the country manager then left less than 6 months into his job)

NetApp Malaysia from the year 2000 has grown strength to strength, not because of my 5.5 years there, but more about NetApp’s ability to get their people to tell the beautiful story together. The employees, the partners, and entire ecosystem sing the same notes, pull the same heartstrings and speak that impassioned storage story. Even guys like me, who has left NetApp Malaysia 8 years ago, continue to evangelize and influence my circle about NetApp.

Back to this HP interview. I didn’t know what got over me when the head hunter asked me to “try” for the HP Malaysia Storage Country Manager job. So I took her invitation, and went for the interview, having the notion that this was a technology job and lead the HP Malaysia Storage team and their partners. I had the belief that I could use my experience in building and liven up the technology community for HP Storage. To me, it was another opportunity to learn and share HP storage technology. The definitive word here being SHARE, which is equated with story telling.

Mind you, I know HP has great technology and innovation in their storage solutions. Yet, after the interview with HP’s managing director, it turned out that their primary concern was about bringing the numbers first and placed a lesser priority in building what a strong technology ecosystem could bring to HP Malaysia in the long run. His immediate vision, perhaps stifled by the pressures of HP management, was too short term. In my opinion, HP was scared in making mistakes and scared of telling beautiful story of their storage technology and culture.

Obviously I was the wrong guy for the job and I am not writing this entry to spite HP Malaysia. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet and learn.

But I believed in story telling part of my daily muse in evangelizing any storage technology that I know, and the things that I believed in. And I am not just NetApp all the way, because I also do the same thing for EMC as well. And Sun too but Oracle Malaysia is screwing up big time with their storage story.

Just a week later after the interview, I was one of the speakers at CIO Asia and you can look at the agenda here. One of the key things I said as I addressed the crowd was “a CIO has to be courageous to break the rules, tell that beautiful story and energize the organization” There was a deja vu moment when I was up on stage, thinking about the interview with HP Malaysia. Where was the courage for HP Malaysia?

This week I am in India conducting a NetApp course for IBM India and last week I was conducting another NetApp course for HP outsourcing guys in Malaysia. And students come up to me asking if I could introduce them to NetApp opportunities. You can figure out for yourself why IBM and HP are losing the mindshare battle of their storage against NetApp. NetApp has energized people like me to lead a tribe and tell that beautiful NetApp story.

I continue to believe that EMC and NetApp have been great because they provided a platform and an ecosystem for the story-tellers to tell their beautiful storage stories, with EMC executing better than the rest. I am beginning to see HDS coming up too, after being a laggard for years.

This is what executing the story is all about. And you win when you are telling the beautiful story about your storage technology. 


p/s: Sometimes I wonder why IBM or HP or Fujitsu or HDS or others don’t approach me to brainwash me. I can brainwash a lot of folks with my story telling, you know (hint hint) 😉


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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

4 Responses to It’s all about executing the story

  1. Alex Tien says:

    Hi Chin Fah, good blog! I agree with you that at this stage of the storage market the only thing differentiating the storage vendors are the customer’s mindset perceptions. I don’t have any experience with EMC, but I have enjoyed the NetApp experience, from the vendor ecosystem to the evangelizing of supporting products like WFA.

    • cfheoh says:

      Hi Alex

      Thanks for your support.

      That story telling piece is so important because it connects to people and yet many organizations don’t understand this. Like a seedling, you need a good environment to grow and spread. Ideas that spread wins!

      All the best to you. Thanks

  2. RR says:

    you know what, HP storage specialist or channel sales in china , even do not know about thin provision

    • cfheoh says:

      Hello Lida

      Thanks for your input.

      I don’t want to deride my fellow storage professionals but if a basic technology such as thin provisioning is not well known, I can find 2 possible reasons:

      1) The company he/she is working for does not encourage personal growth and therefore, the desire to learn is not there
      2) He/She is in the wrong industry! 😛

      All the best to you!


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