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Duped by IDPA?

Joshua Stenhouse 1

It’s been 2.5 years since the release of IDPA and if you’ve been one of the unlucky customers that bought IDPA by choice or by force (either a golf course relationship, a bundle with other products, or both), the truth is now out. EMC might not realize it, but they finally admitted they have been duping their customers and the market all along.

And I’m not talking about dedupe ratios, even though they love to talk about this magic math, you can read more on that here.

What was the dupe?

I’m talking about the dupe that IDPA was something new, revolutionary, or that it was even an appliance at all. It was none of these, it was a bunch of legacy technologies shoved in a rack (the refrigerator) running on top of vSAN, or in combination with a physical Data Domain of varying sizes. You can see it by looking behind the front rack façade:

It is cumbersome mix of 10 different pieces of software/hardware/versions, requires a resident service to keep it from imploding, and gives you none of the benefits of simplicity, automation, instant cloud agility or scale-out expandability that a modern backup platform should. To quote an IDPA customer who I recently had lunch with:

“IDPA is hot garbage. I had to steal the vCenter password from the resident just to keep it running when they left.”

Yes, you read that right. The “integrated” appliance comes with its own vCenter that you aren’t allowed to login to. Need I say more?

Why dupe everybody?

Simple, because they had no other way of competing with the revolution of new backup vendors in the market, that despite their diminutive size at the time, were giving them a beating. They had no choice but to rebadge both their product and marketing and say “we do that too” in order to try stop the bleeding. Even EMC employees themselves were duped into thinking its the same. But it didn’t work very well, because vendors like Rubrik have grown many multiples since, and a side by side POC trial reveals the truth very quickly indeed (I recently completed an entire test plan before they could get IDPA even running, 3 months later its still not finished).

They also needed a couple years to build a technically competitive product, which they finally released July 2019 and it’s called PowerProtect, “this time it really is an appliance”.

This is great news because it validates that Rubrik had the right approach all along with building a modern scale-out data protection platform all the way back in 2015. But they are now 4 years behind the curve. At Rubrik, all the lessons have been learned and implemented in how to build, scale, and support this new way of doing data protection, and customers already have the benefits along with new capabilities that EMC won’t ever release for risk of cannibalizing their own product lines (I.E CDP, read more here).

EMC has to start from scratch with a v1 product that has a couple nice widgets, but it’s not battle hardened, and it will never catch up. Don’t believe me? Check out this video, if you zoom in at 00:16 you’ll see they can’t even get successful VM backups on marketing materials:

But the bigger problem with PowerProtect is realized when we look back. It admits the dupe.

Where’s the proof?

If IDPA was the future of data protection, if it was a simple cloud integrated appliance, then why deprecate it and build something new in the form of PowerProtect?

Because it was a dupe designed to make you think it was the same as newer technologies. They were maximizing the sales of multiple product acquisitions at the end of their lifecycles while artificially boosting the sales of newer products to boot (vSAN). All at your expense and to the detriment of your IT department.

If you want to see any EMC sales person squirm and respond with incoherent sales babble, ask them why you should buy IDPA, then PowerProtect, and why you should pick one versus the other! I recently did this on LinkedIn with the comedic effect of quotes such as “roll your own backup software” as a reason to pick PowerProtect when it comes with backup software?!

This then begs the question; where else in your stack are EMC claiming to be the same as disruptive vendor X? What other company with less customers than EMC has employees are they generating unsubstantiated FUD about? Remember when they said RecoverPoint for VMs was a Zerto killer because it had the proven RecoverPoint engine but all the same features and more, where did it go? Sound familiar?

I’ve been duped, what now?

It’s ok, a lot of marketing dollars were spent in duping you. Thankfully there is another shift happening in the industry that is going to allow you to fix everything in one fell swoop. And that’s the move away from being forced into buying the same hardware every 3-5 years, because EMC made the support cost so exorbitant that it’s cheaper to buy new. All this serves to do is line the pockets of old-school execs while running a legacy IT department that cannot effectively leverage and compete with the cost savings and agility of public cloud.

Switching to subscriptions like Rubrik Go for data protection and Pure Evergreen for all flash storage make it so you never have to buy the same hardware again, as its automatically refreshed when newer hardware becomes available, while giving you the ability to seamlessly integrate, move to, and leverage the cloud.

This is how you compete, this is how you modernize, so my final takeaway for you is…

“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to”

Let me know your experiences with IDPA in the comments section, on twitter or LinkedIn, and EMC employees (I’m not using Dell in the name because the antics haven’t changed, only the account managers), bring on the flames. Thanks for reading,

  1. Dave Feinglass Dave Feinglass

    I don’t know about IDPA (never looked at it) but backup failure alerts on marketing material is just hilariously lazy. Nice catch Josh!


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