SRM software sucks? Let’s fix it.

I’m not saying SRM software sucks.  But it seems to be what I’m hearing around the web in the couple days following Storagebod’s recent posts.

In followup comments, posts, and tweets, people are talking about why Storage Management software isn’t up to par with what customers want, why vendor support is lacking, and whose fault it all is.  EMC ControlCenter is getting its fair share of bashing along the way, but we’re not just talking about ControlCenter here, we’re talking about the state of the industry.

There are two directions the conversation needs to go from here.  One is talking about standards-based management for heterogeneous environments, how we got to where we are and where we need to go from here.  The other is how we can improve what we have today.  That second half, that’s more where I can hopefully come in.

There’s a lot of good data out there, and a lot of noise.  But there’s one piece of absolute truth which ‘bod hit on in his initial post:

scatter the team members to the winds; let them sit in some big enterprise environments and try to keep ECC healthy, working and useful. After about six months, we’ll return them broken but enlightened.

We can’t afford to scatter our team to the winds, but we can ask them to learn more about the pain our customers are going through.  We need to spread that experience and knowledge all the way through the organization, to everyone who touches the product directly or indirectly.  How do we do that?

We have the technology.  We’re launching an online community in January for our valued User Community members and every EMC employee who touches ControlCenter.  Eventually we plan to open the doors to every customer with a ControlCenter license.  It will be a place where people can discuss best practices, give feedback on product direction, and connect in ways we haven’t seen before.  You want to make sure the guy writing the code understands how the feature is going to be used?  Here’s your best chance.

The community is currently in limited pilot form and people are just beginning to dip their toes in the water.

We have bright talented people, and we’ll have a potential flood of information and access to our most vocal customers.  The question we’ll be answering is whether we can put those two things together and change the game.  Because if not, maybe the critics are right — maybe users are going to be perpetually disappointed by this kind of software, no matter who makes it and how.

I say it again.  We now have the technology, and we have the people (assuming they participate).  Do we have the will to listen and the ability to execute?  I’m looking forward to finding out.


#1 Storagebod on 12.04.08 at 10:15 am

I really hope you do listen and maybe you can’t scatter the team to the winds but perhaps you can let a few of them out? Just a week here and a week there?

One of the things I always find disappointing is that you don’t get developers to the User Councils etc.

Social media is excellent but it doesn’t replace face-to-face interaction.

If there’s one thing I would like you to take away, scalability and stability (whoops that’s two). It’s got to scale and it needs to stay up with very little maintenance. Once you’ve got the core stable, then add features but build on rock, not sand; at the moment you are building on quick-sand.

#2 Chris M Evans on 12.04.08 at 4:38 pm

Bring it on. Sign me up. I’ll be there.

#3 Ken Cowan on 12.09.08 at 10:07 am

Disclaimer: I work for EMC, but am not affiliated with ECC.

If you can’t get devs into the field, maybe social media technology can be the next best thing. LiveMeeting and WebEx both allow you to share desktops and record the conversation. I’ve also use Camtasia to do a screen capture, and then edit the result. No the same as being there, but easy enough to do and doesn’t require special hardware (webcams and such).


#4 Ryan McKee on 01.02.09 at 4:26 pm

The biggest problem EMC has with ECC is that it appears to be lacking any quality control. Take ECC 6.1 for example. Completely and entirely unusable until the massive patches come out months later. We wasted many hours in our staff time as well as EMC resources working though the agent connectivity bugs.

Also, EMCs documentation often follows the quantity vs. quality methodology. It leads to end user frustration and the complete reliance on the local support team, who are great folks, don’t get me wrong, but teach a man to fish a bit.

On an up note, I really like the youtube presentations and I think those mini how-to videos are the way to go. Pass on the good feedback and expand the content. Perhaps even on more advanced subjects available on powerlink.

#5 Dave on 01.02.09 at 9:37 pm

Ryan, I appreciate the feedback, and it will be passed along. There’s been a lot of talk about 6.1, and you aren’t the only one frustrated.

I think you’ll be seeing more videos, and I hope you take the time to register with the community site and help us with focused direction regarding video topics as well as the kind of deeper documentation you’re looking for.

Thanks for taking the time to comment!