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Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive Innovation

Definition: “Disruptive innovation is a new innovation which creates a new market and value network, which disrupts exiting markets and value networks eventually displacing an earlier technology”

In contrast a sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks but is simply an evolution/improvement of a product over time.

To fully qualify as a disruptive innovation it has to change an entire market. Lets take an example the first car was a technological revolution but it was not disruptive innovation due to the fact it was a high priced luxurious item and did not disrupt the market which a horse and cart/Carriage was competing in. It was only when Ford made the Model-T that it was a disruptive innovation as it changed the market and displaced the horse and cart/Carriage as it was affordable and accessible.

So with that in mind and looking at today’s technologies which can we class as a truly disruptive innovation?

EMC have come out with many recent technologies which have been disruptive but in my view sustaining innovation, such items are XtremIO is an example which is a evolution of all flash arrays.

What I believe is a disruptive innovation is ScaleIO which is looking to disrupt the storage market and it seems odd that EMC would look to disrupt their own business in such a way. EMC is a vast amalgamation of companies smartly acquired over time to define a strategy, but ScaleIO seems to directly impact the storage industry in which EMC is so dominant.

Lets look at this simply, ScaleIO is the convergence of storage and compute in to one tier leveraging existing application server local disks, running on any hardware and major OS. The key element here is “Storage” the ScaleIO removes the dependency for external SAN storage which can be costly & complex.

Lets look at some of the figures also 1M IOPS from 8 nodes and 11M IOPS from 53 nodes! When you couple this with up to 80% reduction in costs, as you do not need dedicated external storage, SAN switches, power, cooling & HBA’s it starts to look extremely positive especially considering this can scale to 1000’s of nodes, is elastic and also resilient with self healing.

So what EMC are doing is actively pushing a technology which could disrupt their own mainline of business which is storage and they seem to be moving ever more to the new model of commodity hardware and intelligent software, which is positive as they are adapting to the times and leading the charge on the new world of IT. Some argue that EMC has too many acquisitions but I would counter that, I think EMC have admitted they cannot out pace/develop everyone so it is smart to acquire technologies which are of interest.

While ScaleIO is in its infancy at present in terms of being taken on board by large enterprises, I believe that sooner or later companies will be looking to remove their complex & costly external SAN storage and adopt a technology similar to ScaleIO.If not completely removing this at least displacing a significant part of it.

In recent times I cannot think of a technology which made such a disruption, the only one that springs to mind is visualization at the server layer which truly was a disruptive innovation.

So back to the start of this article where I stated what a disruptive innovation is, when you look at what ScaleIO is looking to achieve, displacing an existing storage market, creating a new market and value network it ticks all the boxes of disruptive innovation in the sense that it will truly change IT in the future.

For more information please see: ScaleIO