Tommy posted a great analogy piece on his blog which explains storage in terms of hotel ownership and occupancy rates versus room cost. Not to take anything away from Tommy, because it was a good example for non-technical audiences, but I want to point out that analogies like statistics in USA Today, can be used to position your point favorably while making a seemingly fair comparison.
Let me illustrate. Let’s use the storage-as-hotel example but make some modifications. Hotel X has an outstanding occupancy rate – or shall we say occupancy capacity but our enterprising new owner quickly finds that he has a problem. Following the advice of his architects he’s built a high end hotel with luxury rooms outfitted with imported artworks, complimentary services like turn down and pillow chocolates and other fancy features. Because of this, he finds that his operational expenses (opex) begin to erode the apparent capital expense (capex) efficiencies he thought he’d realized because of the higher capacity.
On top of that, Hotel X has a highly trained and experienced staff waiting to serve the every whim of the guests from bell service, to concierge, to shoe shine, to someone who will hold the door open for you.
Who wouldn’t love to stay at Hotel X? I would – sounds like a great place!
But, I can’t afford it. Nor can many travelers who simply need a place to sleep, shower and maybe make a few phone calls at the end of the business day. Hotel E might be the perfect place for them. Clean, comfortable and cheap. Not too many services available but you can get a free cinnamon bun in the morning and a complimentary cup of coffee.
But consider the proprietors of Hotel C – let’s call them Phil, Larry and John. They’ve been in the business for many years and they know hotels and more importantly they understand guests. They know that most guests (say 80%) really just need a place to sleep for a night or two and don’t want to pay a lot for stuff they don’t need. The other 20% are high end travelers, VIPs or executives who expect the best and demand all sorts of expensive services – and they have the money to pay for it. So, Phil, Larry and John build a hotel to meet the needs of everyone.
Not only can a guest choose to stay in a room that meets their demands, if those demands should change they can upgrade or downgrade to a more appropriate level of service.
OK, you get the point and I could go on and on with this. I even thought about talking about Hotel E as an example of vendor lock in (“you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”). But the bottom line is this: Take the time to understand what you’re getting or you’ll go broke staying in places like Hotel X and won’t have money to get back home!