And the simplicity... well they did just come out with the SCv2000 which is all wizard-driven and about as dead simple to set up as the EQL. I predict we'll see that same level of simplicity making its way into the higher tier products pretty soon.
That would sure be nice. I like the statistics and most of the features of EM, but their I/O configuration is lunacy, up to and including the required license for virtual ports. All of that feels like a networking configuration system that was solved (and better) elsewhere. I'd like to think they don't make it horrifically complicated just to drive reseller/support revenue and that there's something deep inside that makes it worthwhile, but I find it hard to believe.
The auto tiering if configured correctly can certainly make for an interesting performance story. Put SLC at the top where you want fast writes and allow it to trickle down to MLC and/or TLC... just like 15K->10K->7K. There's a question mark over whether current controllers can really take advantage of the potential performance in this kind of setup, but we're seeing controller performance increasing over generations anyway.
IMHO, new flash technologies like Intel/Micron 3D-Xpoint will moot the need to tier between older generation flash technologies. I also suspect that for all but a few workloads MLC is just so much faster that it won't matter at the customer side. Any performance increase is probably offset by the need for heavier weight controllers needed to manage tiering and data page management.
And as you suggest, interconnects would remain a limiting factor -- how many 24 drive MLC shelves until you saturate even a SAS-12 bus?
Even in networking... they've shit-canned the atrocious Powerconnect line of switches (that some people loved) and replaced with a whole new line of switching from low end to high.
I think the N series is pretty good. I don't see much uptake of Force10 since N series came out and the price/performance/features of the 10 gig N series are pretty good. I'd love for someone to give me a couple of the 10 gig models...