“I’m betting that they’re [appliances] are game changers, because the whole premise of these machines goes far, far beyond the no-value concept of simply taking two five-pound bags of concrete and combining them into one 10-pound bag, and calling that innovation.”

[Bob Evans, InformationWeek]

The cover of InformationWeek on September 27, 2010, pictured a towering rack and the headline “Rise of the Appliance.” While all of the examples from the article came from massive companies like Oracle and IBM, the truth is that almost everything discussed in the article is directly applicable to backup appliances as well.  In fact, I even loved the quote above concerning the bags of concrete – it immediately called to mind the psuedo-appliance which Dell/Symantec and Dell/Commvault dump out into the marketplace and misleadingly call a “backup appliance.”  Of course, these things are nothing more than some software jammed onto Windows-based hardware with little more than spittle holding them together.

One Throat to Choke

Later in the article, under a section entitled “Time for Tough Questions”, a curious question is asked “If something goes wrong, whose throat gets choked?”

I’m still trying to figure out why that particular question would be asked.  After all, when you DO NOT have an appliance, whose throat gets choked?  The answer is simple – it’s the customer’s throat – because the customer is the only entity that is in the end responsible for integrating the hardware, operating system, software, storage, and so on, and so on – all of which entail creating a functional appliance.

When you have an appliance, the throat to choke is simple – it’s the vendor of the appliance.  This is a big reason I’m so hard on psuedo-appliance companies – because each month I see customers who are burned by the finger-pointing among the hardware, operating system, and software companies – and yet were sold that they were being delivered an integrated all-in-one appliance.