Dell Technologies, Hitachi Vantara, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Infinidat, NetApp, Pure Storage: these are, in strict alphabetical order, the leaders that Gartner has included in its Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage. One compartment that – analysts explain – includes arrays with any combination of SSD drives and traditional spinning platter disks, plus the software needed to enable Software-Defined Storage (SDS) functions. A sector that is also strongly influenced by the evolution of the cloud. In fact, by 2025, according to Gartner, over 40% of on-premise management activities will be replaced by Managed Storage as-a-Serviceand over 70% of enterprise storage capacity will be consumed on a pay-as-you-go basis.
The eight leaders of the Magic Quadrant are evidently interpreting these trends well. Some more and some less, because the quadrant is not a ranking. Although an order of (relative) merit can always be derived from the position in the quadrant itself: whoever is higher to the right prevails. With this logic, Pure Storage would prevail over the others, followed in order by NetApp, the HPE-Dell and IBM-Huawei pairs (more vision for the former, more execution for the latter), Infinidat, Hitachi Vantara. Each with its strengths and weaknesses.
Dell Technologies, like all large vendors, its strengths are the completeness of the offer – here we are talking about the PowerMax, PowerStore, PowerFlex platforms – which allows us to satisfy customers’ needs in a targeted and granular manner. Special mention for PowerStore systems, which provide the ability to consolidate various types of storage to simplify the IT architecture. It is also good that all products are both purchasable “old-fashioned” as well as usable on a pay-per-use basis. The “thumbs down” of Gartner for Dell instead concerns the lack of clarity of the offerings that include hardware, software, support and services together. But also the lack of a unified cloud storage infrastructure and not always consistent support for legacy products.
Even Hitachi Vantara convinces the breadth, which ranges from mainframe to open systems, covering enterprise and mid-enterprise customer needs, among other things using the same software platform, which simplifies things. The hardware is performing, the SVOS operating system enables AIOps functions on all platforms that use it. Weaknesses? Especially the SDS functions for block storage and some of those to support real-time data analysis.
Gartner rewards HPE for several features that enhance storage system equipment: GreenLake services for vertical applications, AIOpsInfoSight, the analytical functions of CloudPhysics. All this contributes to simplifying the life of those who manage, configure and buy storage. As points of attention for HPE, Gartner signals its transition to a fully as-a-Service model, which is still ongoing and could create an “inconsistent customer experience”. Also for HPE the SDS part for block storage needs to be improved.
Huawei is awarded by Gartner for three main strengths: the data management platform enhanced with elements of AI, the progressive expansion of the offer, the good balance between cost, performance and clarity of development roadmaps. Its main weakness is the same that all Chinese technology vendors have today: the geopolitical tensions between the US and China can have a negative impact on its growth. Furthermore, the cloud-native offer of Storage-as-a-Service can be improved, as well as the compatibility of block platforms with respect to public clouds.
IBM focuses on two main lines of systems: DS8900F for the mainframe part and FlashSystem arrays for the rest of the market. Gartner appreciates that the operating code of the FS systems is homogeneous and consistent for all product ranges, which among other things have an interesting price / performance ratio. Thumbs up also for the management functions of Spectrum Virtualize and Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud. On the other hand, the consistency of the technical support, which depends too much on the location and the product, and the cost of the extended support beyond the first contractual phase should be improved.
Infinidat and its InfiniBox systems are popular with customers contacted by Gartner for the various possibilities of purchase and use, the level of support and the AIOps management functions. Two main limitations, however, are reported: the products are not ideal if you need less than 250 PB of storage and cannot be integrated directly with public clouds.
NetApp is a historical name in the storage world and it is therefore not surprising that the main quality reported by Gartner is the wide product portfolio, suitable both for those looking for an entry level product, and for those with high-end needs. The Keystone Flex model also offers various purchase and use options, and it doesn’t hurt at all that the Ontap operating platforms allow for unified management.of various classes of storage environments. To improve the AIOps functions and some aspects in the princing of the extended support.
Pure Storage is well regarded by its users for the ease of use of the products and the flexibility of the usage models. Including in particular Pure as a Service. The functions of AIOps, then, are convincing. The other side of the coin concerns above all a weight that Pure has always carried with it: doubts about its ability to regularly be in profit, and therefore to be able to operate in the long term. Aside from that, they don’t like the little or no easy integration with public clouds and the overall cost of all-flash arrays.
Aside from the eight Leaders, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for primary storage also includes three Challengers (DDN, Lenovo, Inspur) and two Niche Players (Zadara, Fujitsu).