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2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SSAs: What Vision and Execution Really Mean




Gartner MQ SSA_HPE storage_blog.jpgThe new 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays is out and HPE has moved further up and to the right than ever before, prompting @BigStrongGeek Jorge Maestre to examine (and re-examine) what he believes MQ positions, vision and execution really mean when it comes to all-flash arrays.

Up and to the right

Heeeeeere we go. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Solid-State Arrays (SSAs) comes out and everyone wants to be in the Leader’s Quadrant as far “up and to the right” as possible. Here’s why I believe that’s the goal:

  • “Up” is the “Ability to Execute” scale—which basically means a vendor does what it claims in some way shape or form.
  • “To the Right” is “Visionary” scale—which is essentially a measurement of your roadmap or general direction of where you think your company and its products are going.

So to me being “up and to the right” means you have the best vision and are executing against that vision successfully. Gartner MQ Solid-State Arrays_ July 2017.jpg

                                               Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays  Source: Gartner (July 2017)

Though I’ll never be satisfied, I’m happy we’ve moved ahead on both counts this year. There’s no single attribute or category that accounts for where Gartner will place a given vendor in the MQ. In our case, I believe it was the consistent execution and our go-to-market strategy with 3PAR coupled with the recent acquisition of Nimble that moved the needle for us. 

We’ve written several blogs over the last couple of months on the powerhouse lineup we’re now able to bring to market.

With that said, one of the most interesting things that jumps out at me about this year’s MQ is that everyone is basically a “Leader.” We’ve got: 7 Leaders, 1 Challenger, 2 Visionaries and 1 Niche vendor. The SSA Leaders Quadrant is getting more crowded than the lines for Space Mountain! And all that congestion makes things really tricky now. With almost 70% of vendors in the Leaders Quadrant, I believe Gartner is sending the message that most vendors are now validated as a viable option.    

On one hand that’s great for the consumer. But on the other hand it’s now more important than ever to understand the differentiation between each vendor and their offerings. With so many leaders, how do you find the right one for you?

Welcome to the third wave:  Flash as the “new normal”

There’s no argument to be had here. Solid-state arrays are not about performance or economics anymore. They all check that box. That’s what flash actually is anyway. That doesn’t mean that customers can’t make a bad choice. Of course they can. In fact, this crowded field makes it even more important to understand these two things:

  1. What sets each SSA apart at an architectural level?
  2. What items “beyond the box” are required to truly get the most out of your all-flash data center?

For that first question you need to know:

  • What can the product actually do?
  • What unique features does it have and how do they affect the performance of the system?
  • What are the product limitations and what are the breaking points? Performance under load?

When it’s time to pull your head up and look beyond the box you need to ask:

  • What’s the application ecosystem support? Traditional apps? Containers? File?
  • How is the operational experience? Automation? Analytics? Support?
  • What’s your risk profile? Protection beyond snapshots? Beyond the array? Off-premises?
  • How does this solution fit in your investment strategy? Consumption flexibility and refresh?

Lastly, there is a sometimes awkward but critical important question to ask yourself:

  • Who is staying and who isn’t? Is the vendor an acquisition target? Is the balance sheet healthy? Another Violin? 

You can have all the Vision in the world but ultimately it is your financials that will determine whether or not you can execute.

Perception beyond Vision

I can’t cover everything I’d like in a single blog post but I do want allocate some space to what is one of the major elements of our Vision… and that’s the predictive analytics engine Nimble Storage has developed with InfoSight.

Every second, InfoSight analyzes millions of sensor data points and uses this to predict and prevent problems across the infrastructure stack. 86% of problems are resolved by InfoSight before a customer even knows there’s an issue. And InfoSight continually gets smarter through machine and installed base learning.  One of the tricks with analytics is the breadth and depth of the data used in that deep learning. 

And it’s not just storage. InfoSight has been gathering data points from the network, the server, and the hypervisor. Imagine what we could do if we turned on the data flow from the world’s best-selling x86 server, the world’s leading VMware installed base and billions of connected SAN ports… Oh wait, we can. And we will—across Nimble, 3PAR and beyond. That’s the power of AI in the data center and that’s what makes this vision so compelling.

About Gartner

At this point most people in IT are probably pretty familiar with Gartner and Gartner’s reputation. In putting together this research, Gartner analysts collect data and then offer their opinion. If you trust their opinion, great. If you don’t, you find lots of reasons to poke holes in it.

It’s not my intention to defend or bash Gartner. I’ll just share what I know. There’s a lot of research that goes into this from the Gartner team and I think it’s lost on most people. They meet with customers, check roadmaps, run deep dives into product architectures and so much more.

Gartner is sharing an opinion based on years of research and as such it gets notoriety. I respect Gartner’s’ opinion. I love it actually. It motivates us to get better. If there’s any one lesson we can learn from the monoliths out there it’s this: If you’re not getting better, you’re dying.

The future

The future of storage is more interesting now than ever before. It’s also quite healthy, irrespective of the naysayers. All-flash storage and the innovations that come with it are the new norm. And that’s a good thing.

While some vendors are talking about NVMe, we’ve already shown it.

While some vendors are promising cloud integration at some point down the road, we’ve already delivered it.

While some vendors are talking about predictive analytics and “self-driving” storage, we’re already proactively predicting the best outcomes for our customers.

While some vendors are looking to consolidate their disjointed mess of a portfolio or partner with vendors to round out their ecosystem, we’ve gone ahead and simplified infrastructure in every way possible through Synergy & Composability

And while we may be missing some of the buzz words analysts like to hear, we’re NOT missing any of the features that are required in the modern world of storage. In fact, we have more than any other vendor out there.  

That is Vision. That is Execution

Read the complete Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays.(Registration is required to download the report.)

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose..

Jorge Maestre.png

 Meet Around the Storage Block blogger Jorge Maestre, Competitive Strategist, Global Storage, HPE. @BigStrongGeek



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