But it wasn’t built from the ground up…so what?

One of the latest phrases that seems to be in vogue right now in the IT industry is ‘Built from the ground up’, or it’s more derogatory form ‘Not built from the ground up’. We’ve all latched onto this as if it offers some unique and incredible value to a piece of technology, or as a way to try and show how someone elses technology is somehow inferior. All of us vendors are guilty of this right now, but where I hear this most frequently is when it comes to All Flash Arrays, the way this usually plays out is that a new vendor with their All Flash array walks into a potential customer or partner and proceeds to explain why being ‘Built from the ground up’ offers some incredible new value that you simply can’t overlook, and that everyone that wasn’t ‘Built from the ground up’ is therefore obviously inferior. It’s often articulated in some very specific details such as how their Garbage collection is superior, now I’m yet to see how any company achieved some new capability for the business or some unique new outcome because of garbage collection, but feel free to wade in on the comments section if you have some good examples. In all my discussions I’m focused on outcomes, what does this new technology enable you to do that you couldn’t do before and how does this manifest itself in a real advantage to the data, the applications and the users of the technology, and so far I’m not hearing anything that truly shows that the statement ‘Built from the ground up’ actually equates to any real business advantage. More details in the video…


  1. Spot on!
    Remember those heady days of Exchange over VLD’s (kinda SAN over NFS!)?
    Even harder then, because Microsoft wouldn’t support it…..we still got MANY customers using it because it provided a solution to a problem: exchange outages (in those days) were long & painful things, and storing it on NetApp just helped make those recoveries so much better!
    Or to put it another way: the outcome was that a customer solution was easier and safer to recover 🙂

    (of course we have a much better relationship with Microsoft and others these days!)

  2. Back in the day….we used to do this with Ontap – we talked about how it wasn’t a multipurpose OS (true) but a purpose build data-magement OS, speaking native file (and then block) services protocols…I used to enjoy asking what’s native btw, why does it matter….what’s the difference in outcome…Windows servers spoke native, but they were at the very core of the issue that we addresses with NAS…

    Second point, with MARS we actually leverage a lot of our Ontap innovation and Ontap is now leveraging MARS innovation…. that’s the benefit of our Enterprise class portfolio…
    They both (will) leverage our data movement capabilities, keeping data in motion….. What does ‘Built from the ground up’ do here….data stays on Flash forever… that’s just great isn’t it?

  3. I believe the first person I heard say “Built from the ground up” in relation to flash was Brian Pawlowski from NetApp. Who said the only way to get the performance from flash with enterprise features and functionality would be to build it from the ground up which is why Mars was being written. It’s even in a youtube video. This just smacks of damage control because FlashRay is so woefully behind almost every flash vendor in the market that NetApp had to start pitching their traditional products as all-flash and start singing a new not built from the ground up tune.

    1. Tom

      Wow! I think you’re reading way to much into this, I don’t frankly care who made the comment originally, who keeps making it now and who will make it again in the future, I even said it tongue in cheek at the end of the video. Like I said in the video, I like to talk about outcomes, what a technology enables someone to do rather than focus on very specific details such as garbage collection.

      Out of interest do you mind letting me know who you work for?


  4. I love the “OUTCOMES” discussion, it brings clarity to the customer and takes the conversation to a real “What is the organization value and business value?”, “how is the solution mitigating future unknown risks?”, “how does it saves money and time in the long run…”….

    Matt –> I like this – “So what” approach 🙂 – and will embrace

  5. Insightful as ever Matt, to often people get lost in the technology conversation and completely forget the business problem they are trying to solve.
    If we as solutions providers find ourselves having technical conversations such as “is it built from the ground up?” “how fast is your IOPS” “does it do warp factor 10 and make the tea” then we’ve not spent enough time showing how we solve the problem.

    on the flip side if you’re buying technology to solve your business problems and your getting lost in the tech, then pull back a second and ask yourself the question “is this delivering the solution I need”.

    the techs important of course, but it’s not the most or only important thing.

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