Daily Archives: December 3, 2011

Hated GUI killing Ubuntu

OK, this is off-topic. Not my usual storage news but I thought I share this with you.

I am a Linux enthusiast. I play around with Linux – mostly Fedora and RedHat flavoured distros. For the past 2 years, one of the things I hated was the rise of Ubuntu. I don’t know why, but I just didn’t like the distro. Ubuntu, based on Debian, was the darling of the Linux desktop world. Perhaps I am a server guy but I just didn’t like Ubuntu. A few years ago, I won a Dell Latitude 2100 with Ubuntu pre-installed. I played around it with for a few days (hated it) and I decided to switch to Fedora 13 after that.

So, as Ubuntu’s star waned, I was piqued by the news. According to DistroWatch, which tracks popular Linux distros based on hits-per-day, Ubuntu is steadily on the decline. Here’s a look at the latest DistroWatch numbers of the top-10 Linux distros:

The decline is likely caused by Ubuntu Unity GUI, which replaced the likable GNOME/KDE interface in Ubuntu Natty Narwhal 11.04 version. The current version, Oneiric Ocelot 11.10, is taking a lot of hits of the wrong kind. It has dropped from the top spot and now down to #4.

Here’s a few screenshots of the Unity interface in Natty Narwhal.

I am pleasantly surprised that a GUI interface could cause so much harm to a Linux distro but judging by the number of haters out there, I guess the Unity GUI is killing Ubuntu’s popularity. Let’s see how Ubuntu will react in its version 12.04, Precise Pangolin.

The top distro is now Linux Mint, another Debian derivative. I have not tried Linux but I have been playing around with OpenSuSE 12.1. Not bad, buggy, but not bad.

I am still waiting to start my Fedora 16 download – 3.2GB baby over the Jaring SOMAport link. One day, but not today!

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One-stop shop matters

Would you buy fruits from dedicated fruit seller or would you go to a hypermarket to get your fruits? It depends on your preference but it is more likely that you would go to a hypermarket to do your shopping. You might need some accompanying stuff while you are at the hypermarket. There will be ideas stirring in your mind that you might need this or that while planning your fruit shopping.

The “ideas stirring in your mind” is what concepts like hypermarkets do. They mess around with your thinking and they play with your psychological side because we are human beings. We are driven by desire and convenience.

In storage, this whole psychological game comes into play as well in the customer’s purchasing habits. If the customer is purchasing storage from one vendor, he/she might as well get the rest of the data management solutions from the same vendor. The vendors would pitch easy, cost-effective, seamless, proven and other well-received words to woo the customer. And the key ingredient is INTEGRATION.

All solutions these days are complex, and integration of getting all components to work together is not easy. I have been working on a private cloud data appliance for almost 2 months now, and it’s not as seamless or as easy as it seems. According to the whitepaper, everything was rosy and dandy but when it comes down to ground zero, even the vendors themselves had a hard time doing the integration. And this drives up costs, resources and time.

That is why EMC has become a behemoth in the storage industry, being an A-Z one-stop shop of everything of data storage and management to every one. That is why IBM and HP are able to leverage their server business and their other solutions and services portfolio to entice the customers to buy their products. That is why Oracle wants to worn the whole bloody application stack in their Exadata, to sell more Oracle database licenses. Pure-play storage vendors like NetApp and HDS, who prefer to work on partnership could be feeling the heat of late.

In the latest IDC quarter worldwide disk storage system tracker (that’s a mouthful), NetApp is the prominent one being mentioned as “losing ground“. Here’s a look at a table, which compares past quarters results.

It is difficult to quantify integration costs, because there are many intangible, and unseen costs and impacts. To pacify customer’s fears, and increase their confidence in the total data storage and management solutions, marketing initiatives such as whitepapers, reference architectures, webcasts, social media, social business networking, demos, proof-of-concepts (POCs) and many more are tools of the trade that could tip a customer towards a vendor’s solution.

I believe NetApp could begin to realize that. And rumours are swirling in the industry for NetApp to acquire strong solutions such as Commvault and Quantum. It makes sense. NetApp is in need of a strong data protection solution in which it has a say in the vision and direction of the software. NetApp needs a strong data deduplication solution in which Quantum has in its DXi series. Symantec could be a acquisition target as well as the security and data management giant’s stock has stagnated in the stock market.

NetApp itself could be an acquisition target as well, with IBM, Cisco and HP the possible suitors. NetApp’s solutions are a great solution set for IBM, who really needs to do something about their staggered storage portfolio. HP might have chewed a mouthful with 3PAR but HP has been bad news for the last 2 quarters, no thanks to its on-and-off fiasco of ditching it PC business and other crazy stunts of HP-versus-Oracle and their ex-CEO, Leo Apotheker. Cisco could bet on NetApp too. Both companies have strong relationship together, but Cisco is drying up. They are becoming a laggard in the networking industry and companies like Juniper are hitting back … hard!

All these jousting and shuffling are creating the consolidation of the storage industry. The top six players – EMC, NetApp, IBM, HP, HDS and Dell – owns more than 80% of the total storage market share in terms of revenue. As the data storage and management world becomes more complex, and the ubiquity of cloud computing demands absolute uptime with no room for errors, the one-stop shop makes sense. One throat to choke … as they say.