Around the Storage Block
Chris Purcell

Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged infrastructure – what you need to know.


It’s often more insightful to see where you are going, if you have a sense of where you have been and the progress you have made along the way. The Gartner Magic Quadrants can provide this insight if you are prepared to invest a little time. That’s what I did for this article: provide analysis on the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure over a two-year period.

Looking back over time can provide 20/20 insights for the future

When you create a comparison view as the diagram on MQ.pngthe left shows, (an aggregate of two years – 2017 shown in yellow and the latest 2018 results shown in red,) you can start to see an interesting story form that you cannot see from a single year’s report.

For instance, in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for HCI, the lower left quadrant (Niche Players), collected the greatest population of vendors. It’s interesting to note that four new vendors joined this category in 2018, one former vendor dropped out (HTBase), with another vendor just recently leaving early in 2019 (Maxta). In 2019, I expect to see more vendors exiting than entering this Magic Quadrant. As this category of products becomes more mature, it is harder for newer vendors to catch up. Another point of note is that although these “Niche Players” come to market with some intriguing and well-featured products, few were able to last the year. This area of the Quadrant is the riskiest for vendor selection and investment, so caution is needed. 

In contrast, the upper right quadrant (Leaders) tells quite a different story. In 2018 you see one existing vendor (Cisco) enter this section, and two other vendors make progress up and to the right, (VMware and HPE). There appears to be interesting movement for Dell, as it shifts up and to the left towards Challenger (which is somewhat in the wrong direction). And lastly, the 2017 leader Nutanix, stays in the exact same position as the previous year without any movement. Everybody can draw their own conclusions from these results; my preference is to choose vendors that consistently show movement up and to the right year-over-year, as opposed to staying stationary or shifting to the left. (Up and to the right movement typically indicates continued investment and new innovation).

What you need to look out for in the Magic Quadrant

The Gartner Magic Quadrants are always going to provide an interesting view on the current leader within any specific infrastructure category, but sometimes these leaders don’t always prove to be the best vendor to select. And that’s why checking out the accompanying Critical Capabilities report from Gartner can be even more important than the Magic Quadrant itself. In this latest Critical Capabilities report for HCI, you can start to see the DNA of any one particular vendor and are able to compare how they rate across 6 different use case categories. This report is a great place to start your investigation, and is a reliable source to gain a lot of information.

But I always encourage readers to dig a little deeper with their research. Why? These types of comparisons allow you to see that not all vendor features are equally compared. Although Gartner tries very hard to equally categorize all functionality together into the use cases, some vendor’s functionality doesn’t always fit neatly into each of Gartner’s categories.

For example, Gartner rates Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) low in one section of the Critical Capabilities report for not providing cloud backups. This is somewhat of a binary category with a yes or no response, without the opportunity to describe a solution that might prove to be a better for customers. In this case, HPE SimpliVity powered by Intel® provides a redundant site for disaster recovery, which gives companies assurance that they will be able to operate from a remote site in case of an unplanned outage at the main site. Some customers see this feature as more cost-effective than cloud backups, but it is a feature that has not yet been able to carry much weight in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities reports. Other vendors have had similar challenges in other use cases, hence my advice to conduct in-depth research before making a purchasing decision.

In summary

The 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities for Hyperconverged Infrastructure reports are a great place to start your investigation if you are looking into HCI, but I encourage you to delve into the report so you have a full picture of what all the different products are able to provide. In closing, I want to thank Gartner Inc. for creating the reports. I’d also like to thank all the customers, partners, and vendors that contributed input that make these reports possible. Here are links to the 2018 Magic Quadrant report for Hyperconverged Infrastructure and the Critical Capabilities report to start your investigation.


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About the Author

Chris Purcell

Composable Infrastructure, Integrated and Multi-Cloud management, Hyperconverged Infrastructure and Cloud