So I’m jealous that Lori works D&D references into her posts regularly and I never have… Until today! For those who aren’t gamers or literary buffs, a Hydra is a big serpent or lizard with a variable number of heads  (normally five to nine in both literature and gaming). They’re very powerful and very dangerous, and running into one unprepared is likely to get you p0wned. The worst part about them is that mythologically speaking, if you cut one of the heads off, two grow in its place. Ugly stuff if you’re determined to defeat it.

That’s the way I see array-based file virtualization and other tack-on functionality. Vendors who are implementing it (many of whom are F5 partners), try to tell you that they’re unifying everything and the world is a wonderful place with greener grass and more smiling children due to their efforts. And they’re right…If you’re a homogenous shop with nothing but their storage gear. Then their multi-headed hydra looks pretty appealing. Everyone else feels like it only does a part of the job and is wary of getting too close.

For the rest of us there are products like ARX to take care of that nasty truth that no organization is an all-one-vendor shop, particularly not in the NAS space, where higher end gear can cost hundreds of thousands while entry level is a commodity server with a thousand bucks worth of disk slapped into it. In fact, I have never seen an IT department that was all one vendor for NAS, and that’s the problem with single-vendor messaging. Sure they can give you a handle on their stuff, help you virtualize it, give you a unified directory structure, automate tiering, but what about that line where their box ends and the rest of the organization begins? That’s the demarcation line where you have to find other products to do the job.

Picture from Pantheon.org

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