Apparently our good friend Twomey got himself in trouble by mouthing off about EMC’s long-awaited Maui cloud-storage project. Nobody seems to be both informed and permitted to talk about Maui, but I find some of the speculation fascinating. Some have tried to tie it to OceanStore, a project I was watching closely several years ago (I played a key role in getting EMC to help fund it, and I was one of the first industry partners to see it actually run on a couple of laptops at Granlibakken). Some have referred to Maui as something beyond a CDN. The CloudFellas video that got Twomey in trouble sounds like an exact reprise of a usage scenario I had proposed for my own distributed-data-store project at EMC back in 2001-2002.

Yes, you read that correctly. All of this is interesting and familiar because I was working on it a long time ago. I was essentially doing it all by myself, and had developed several of the key technology pieces before I left. My plans for turning such a block store into a global-scale filesystem, based on leveraging certain features I’d made sure were present in HighRoad’s design, were all well documented. You can even find hints about it here on this site, around that time. If EMC had given me resources and support instead of obstacles and interference, who knows what they could have had in, say, 2003 or 2004? I’ve heard rumors that some people were working on my old code a couple of years ago, but I don’t know whether to believe them. What I do know is that EMC aggressively pursued patents based on that work, and that some of the people whose names I’ve heard associated with Maui were very well aware of what I was up to back then. On the other hand, maybe Maui is something quite different, based on entirely different technology (e.g. from Mozy). The key thing to remember is that the people at EMC who will try to take credit for this idea didn’t come up with it on their own. Neither did I, but at least I helped move the technology forward while the people you’ll see praised as visionaries were actively going out of their way to squash it. They saw it as a threat, as they instinctively see everything at first, and by the time they learned to see it as an opportunity it was too late as far as I was concerned.

Bitter? Yeah, a bit, this time. I didn’t particularly like having to fight tooth and nail for the right to do something so clearly beneficial to the company (and consistent with its expressed “data tone” vision), or seeing my two closest allies shoved out and my project canceled as a direct consequence, all because of corporate politics. If EMC ever makes any money from cloud storage, it will be despite their so-called leadership. They’re into innovation the way Genghis Khan was into urban renewal.