There are no silver bullets, 2015 edition

In Feb 2013, I opined (with some measure of disgust) that people were looking at various software packages as silver bullets, these magical bits of a stack which could suddenly transform massive steaming piles of bits (big … uh … “data” ?) into golden nuggets of actionable data. Many of the “solutions” marketed these days are exactly like that … “add our magic bean software to your pipeline and you will gain insight faster.” or other such pablum.

This years nonsensical silver bullets all seem to center around various breathless exhortations on a few specific things.

First: Hardware doesn’t matter. We hear this repeated from customers repeating what their consulting folk say. The funny thing is, they are provably, demonstrably wrong. Hardware is an instance of an architecture, and architecture MATTERS VERY MUCH in terms of performance, performance density, control of costs, etc. If you have a single box that costs 1.2-1.4x what your other boxes cost, but does 2-4x the work load, do you save money if you assume a constant workload? Yes, of course you do. Does it give you an unfair competitive advantage over others believing this for use cases where performance and architecture actually matter (big data, storage, SDS/SDN/etc., high performance data analytics, etc.)? … Yes, yes it does.

Second: If we add in an NVMe/SSD/magical pixie dust, our old slow terrible architecture system will be as fast as your monster. Uh, no. Not even close. And I re-refer you to the afore-linked study showing our older slower (but superior) architecture as compared to a newer shiny-er set of parts with a weak architecture (the good box vs the cheap per unit cost box).

The second point usually gets exasperation from those whom can’t/shan’t/won’t believe that it is possible. I mean, how in all things that are good in this universe, could this little upstart bootstrapped company with no valley investors from … where … freaking Michigan? … build better stuff than a unicorn, or a massive hundred billion dollar value company? There is just no freaking way … its impossible.

Or, some think it is, until they try it. And realize that not only is it possible, but it happened. And is happening, and continues to happen.

I’ll talk about this more soon, but architecture matters. Far more than per unit cost. Because if you have a crappy architecture, you need many more of the low unit cost boxen to make up the performance difference. Doesn’t matter if they are yours, or in the cloud.

Something to ponder.

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