EMC’s XtremIO product is launching next week on November 14. This is the beginning of the end for EMC’s Symmetrix line and the toughest product transition they’ve ever attempted.

You may recall last year when StorageMojo decrypted the content of a Storage Newsletter interview with Chuck “Pravda” Hollis, EMC’s marketing spokesman.

After noting that the pre-announcement was meant to freeze the all-flash array market while NOT positioning it as a Symm replacement, StorageMojo opined:

It won’t ship until the 2nd half of 2013 at the earliest and may slip further. But an H1/2013 announcement is likely.

When EMC bought EIO, they predicted a Q1 2013 launch. At the time EIO hadn’t shipped a product.

Ever the optimist
StorageMojo was chided by Mr. Hollis, who denied any problem with ship dates:

I was very dismayed yesterday to see that Storage Newsletter made a hash of a recent interview. You can tell by reading it that they had multiple and severe translation challenges. And, of course, they never bothered to send along a draft back to me for verification — which is standard practice in these cases.

We’ll be talking with them about that.

I was doubly dismayed to see that you had grabbed a snippet of their poor work, and decided to make it all your own.

To be clear: the Xtremio product is doing quite well, thank you, and meeting all of our expectations. We’re looking forward to a public GA in 2013.

The energetic publisher of Storage Newsletter, Jean-Jacques Maleval, denied any transcription errors. Given that the interview was conducted in English – unless Chuck is fluent in French – there wouldn’t have been any translation errors at all.

Chuck also said that the product was in “early access” – beta – last December. Then in July EMC President and COO David Goulden said they were on track for a Q4 announce. EMC offered the product on a “directed availability” for certain use cases at that time.

Veterans know that a long beta is a sure sign of a troubled program. But let’s put all that behind us. Where are we 11 months later?

The StorageMojo take
Given the success of all-flash arrays from Kaminario, Nimbus, Pure and Violin, there are three major concerns in Hopkinton:

  • They need a tactical product that they can – if needed – give away to keep the currently little guys out of EMC accounts.
  • But they can’t let the XtremIO product kill presumably larger and just as profitable Symm sales.
  • Also, it would be nice if the product didn’t blow up customer operations.

My, that is a conundrum!

If I were Violin et. al. I would order up 25,000 coffee cups with my company logo on them and use every means possible to get them into EMC’s major accounts. Force EMC sales to lead with XtremIO at big discounts, making the price/performance gap between Symms and flash arrays all the more stark.

Despite a year’s worth of effort the XtremIO product is not as mature as ones shipping for a couple of years. EMC is caught in a bind of its own making – which doesn’t happen very often – and now is the time to make them as uncomfortable as possible.

EMC will trot out beta customers to tout the wonders of XtremIO. But a November 14 announcement – about the last possible day to get some reasonable attention in 2013 – makes me wonder how ready the product is. If you order one let me know when delivery is promised – and if it works.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. I’ve done work for Kaminario and Violin.