Posts Tagged ‘HDS’

Converged infrastructure: the enterprise platform of the future?

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Peter ffoulkes, Research Director for Servers and Cloud Computing

In the five years since Cisco became a server vendor with the introduction of its Unified Computing System in March 2009, much has changed in the IT industry. Although initially received with skepticism by more traditionally server-centric vendors such as HP and IBM, the networking giant’s move into the world of x86-based ‘industry standard servers’ was a harbinger of change in the transformation of IT toward the software-defined datacenter and a cloudy future.

“The network is the computer”

John Gage, employee number 21 of the ‘late’ Sun Microsystems, is credited with coining the marketing phrase “the network is the computer,” long before the Internet and cloud computing became everyday terms. In the early days, the workstations (essentially desktop or deskside Unix-based servers with a screen and a keyboard) were still the heart of the system, with the network just providing a connection between these distributed powerhouses, but the phrase was probably more insightful about the future of computing than was realized at the time.

Since that time, the network and storage have become increasingly important, while the servers have been virtualized and the server hardware is arguably the most commoditized and interchangeable component of the hardware infrastructure. Cisco has been able to take advantage of its dominance in networking to build an ecosystem of partners to bring these converged platforms to market. Unlike end-to-end providers like IBM and HP, Cisco realized the ‘stickiness’ of storage in the enterprise, so it deliberately took a ‘storage vendor neutral’ approach by partnering with major storage vendors EMC, HDS, NetApp and others to bring converged infrastructure offerings to market.

As Cisco UCS celebrates its fifth birthday, our surveys show continued traction for converged infrastructure as successful platforms to underpin the foundations of cloud-ready datacenters.

Converged Infrastructure

Anecdotal commentary illustrates the reaction to converged infrastructure platforms by TheInfoPro’s respondent community:

  • “Saw a demo, very exciting, and if I had to start all over again it would be great. When you have a well-defined virtual infrastructure, it is too hard to implement. Great for a new datacenter.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “IBM is pushing some replacements to go to PureFlex, not sure yet.” – MSE, Education
  • “We looked, but we do not see it as a fit in our environment due to the different storage we are using.” – MSE, Financial Services
  • “Migration to Cisco UCS, moving from HP.” – LE, Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals
  • “We moved internal cloud infrastructure to the Cisco UCS platform.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “Will look at FlexPod and Vblock next year [but to evaluate, not in plan].” – LE, Financial Services

Storage pros rate Dell highest in value for money

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Marco Coulter, Research Director for Storage

Enterprises are tightening their storage budget belts in 2014. Taking the pulse of our currently active storage study, we see two-thirds of storage pros either flattening or decreasing spending. Dell storage received an average rating of 4.0 in value for money, leading the 11 vendors detailed in Wave 17. The picture is not all rosy, as a year of ownership uncertainty led to Dell having strategic vision as its lowest category.

October 2013 saw Dell move into private ownership under founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners after months of speculation. Vulnerability scores for Dell are likely to be higher in the current study, as clients assess how going private impacts Dell’s storage strategy. Private ownership may allow more flexibility; however, having a large debt to service can also drive a more conservative focus on cash flow. The company is unlikely to maintain the rate of acquisitions seen over the past few years.

Customer Ratings

Dell is a top 10 exciting vendor in Wave 17, and most of that excitement has to do with pricing, per the narratives below. The 2010 Compellent acquisition gave it a significant second place in automated tiering. By 2013, it had ceded ground in the technology to vendors such as HDS, NetApp, HP and IBM. Support for technologies like hybrid flash support and converged server/storage/network offerings kept Dell competitive without delivering leading ratings. Dell’s other strong rating is 3.9 for ease of doing business, again highest among all 11 vendors.

In last year’s ‘Dell: the Enterprise Storage Vendor,’ we noted Dell gaining a foothold in larger enterprises. This quarter will be telling, as the bulk of storage-related spending with Dell occurs in Q2. It has a healthy stable of software and hardware technologies for traditional and newer hypervisor-converged storage architectures, and acceptance as a ‘value for money’ vendor. The story might be bright for Dell if it can overcome enterprise nerves about its strategic vision for storage.

  • “Dell Compellent – it’s doing what we need to do for a very good price compared to the others.” – LE, Industrial/Manufacturing
  • “We switched from DAS to Dell because it was more cost-effective for archiving.” – MSE, Services: Business/Accounting/Engineering
  • “Dell still offers pretty good value for the money.” – LE, Industrial/Manufacturing
  • “Dell has some very good pricing. We like that … a lot. We are still nervous about reliability as well as top-end storage. The jury is still out before we go to the next, higher level.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “Dell can do a better job with increasing their market share. They need to do a better job working with enterprise customers.” – LE, Industrial/Manufacturing
  • “Good pricing from Dell.” – MSE, Education
  • “Dell makes a good product. The products and support is decent. Storage, they are still a small player. No real big arrays in their offerings.” – LE, Industrial/Manufacturing

Next-generation object storage addresses scale-out challenges

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Nikolay Yamakawa, Analyst for TheInfoPro

Next-generation object storage may change enterprise architectures by enabling multiple access points in addition to cost-effective storage and scalability – quite a proposition for dealing with unstructured data in the age of changing e-discovery practices and ever-growing data.

Object storage uses a flat architecture that stores data in containers or ‘objects,’ which carry metadata with detailed content information enabling quick search and access from multiple locations. Data may be spread across different storage pools, such as on- or off-premises cloud and hybrid storage, with high scalability and fast rebuild time without a single point of failure.

A recently published 451 Research report, ‘How amending the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure can change e-discovery’ (client login required), discusses how the e-discovery space may be changing as new amendments are being considered. Object storage has been traditionally used in e-discovery and compliance. Next-generation object storage offered by companies like Nexenta Systems, Caringo and Scality focuses on new uses. The uses include scale-out storage, big content and cloud storage. This next generation of object storage with scale-out focus enables support for unstructured data, backup, disaster recovery and archiving.

Enterprises have different incumbent and newer vendor options available when it comes to object storage solutions. EMC, predominantly through its Centera offering, has the highest number of respondent selections for in-use implementations, followed by HDS, which has more than nine times less use cases among large and midsize enterprises under its belt. The technology is currently implemented at 24% of enterprises, and a further 7% have near-term and long-term project plans. Going forward, rapid capacity growth, cited by 45% of enterprises as a top pain point in the Wave 17 Storage Study, coupled with new potential e-discovery pressures and more widespread cloud adoption, may start to catalyze more enterprises to embrace both legacy and the next generation of object storage.

Object-based Storage

TheInfoPro’s commentator network provided these anecdotes on object storage and on growing data volume:

  • “We have been doing our own private cloud, introducing object storage.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “Looking at object-based storage in remote offices – the idea you can have a caching mechanism without a huge footprint is very appealing.” – LE, Services: Business/Accounting/Engineering
  • “HDS’ object-based storage is something we’re also interested in.” – LE, Services: Business/Accounting/Engineering
  • “Storage savings study. Our footprint just keeps getting bigger. For a while it was steady – 1PB for four storage admins a few years ago. Then 4PB; just in the last year we’ve jumped from four to six and a half. Facilities costs are going through roof.” – LE, Consumer Goods/Retail

M&A heat brightens Fusion-io’s spotlight as a leader in solid state in servers

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Nikolay Yamakawa, Analyst for TheInfoPro

In light of recent acquisitions in the solid-state arena, Fusion-io’s early lead in the developing market for solid state in servers makes the company a potential target for M&A opportunities. The results of TheInfoPro’s Wave 17 Storage Study show that 8% of survey respondents are conducting in-pilot/evaluation projects and have near term-plans for solid state in servers, with 17% planning budget increases in 2013. The positive spending intentions helped place the technology sixth in the Heat Index, with plenty of room for future growth; only 18% of survey respondents reported ‘in use’ implementations in the first half of 2013.

solid-state in servers

Fusion-io has been a momentum leader in solid state in servers and in solid-state accelerators for a while, but with recent announcements of Cisco’s acquisition of Whiptail and Western Digital’s acquisition of Virident Systems, the company is surrounded by M&A heat. The use of solid state in servers is still limited, and some enterprises are concerned that solid state in servers, which is often purchased at the time of server purchase, makes servers cost-heavy. Nonetheless, Fusion-io is the only company with a significant number of in-pilot/evaluation projects, ahead of HP, IBM, EMC, HDS, Oracle and Dell. The company’s position may be considered even stronger, given that HP, IBM and Dell have OEM relationships with it. Fusion-io’s steady performance, coupled with recent M&A announcements, creates a favorable environment for its investors going forward.

The following respondent commentary was provided for Fusion-io:

  • “Fusion-io has the most complete, server-based flash acceleration portfolio; they have a good partnership with Dell.” – LE, Consumer Goods/Retail
  • “Fusion-io – lets me target specific servers or databases requiring better performance.” – MSE, Financial Services
  • “Fusion-io in very limited use cases – having trouble with cost benefit. A PCI flash card in our servers can become a significant fraction of the cost of the server.” – LE, Financial Services

Nimble Storage and Tintri jump on a hybrid gravy train

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Nikolay Yamakawa, Analyst for TheInfoPro

Solid state in shared hybrid arrays is expected to become a key source for increasing enterprise storage capacity. For 2013, 27% of respondents from TheInfoPro Wave 17 Storage Study reported higher spending intentions for the technology, which is an increase from the 18% of respondents that planned to increase spending in 2012. As a result of this healthy expansion, solid state in hybrid arrays placed fourth in the technology heat index.

The increased spending will allow incumbents and some of the startup companies to strengthen their positions. EMC, NetApp, HDS and IBM are likely to continue flourishing in future. In addition to legacy companies, a new breed of hybrid storage companies appeared above the noise level in the market for solid state for shared hybrid arrays. For example, Nimble Storage and Tintri are two startup companies that can benefit from the increased spending.

Solid State in Share Network

More details on Nimble Storage and Tintri are available in the 451 MIS Impact reports written by Simon Robinson and Tim Stammers (behind the pay wall, but can they also be read via trial access).

The following quotes were provided by the commentator network on start up companies that provide solid state in shared hybrid arrays technology:

  • “Tintri – they’ve been in here, and their product focused on being optimized for virtual hosting and DT, which will be important to us as we consolidate our IT environments. It’s a hybrid between SSD and SATA (or SAS?) – they guarantee out of the box that 99% of hits will be delivered via flash.” – Midsize Enterprise, Public Sector
  • “In VDI space, Tintri is exciting. Their claim to fame is making disk systems geared toward high I/O applications and workspace.” – LE, Consumer Goods/Retail
  • “Tintri – they’re young, but they use SSD and de-dupe to it, then autotier. Very efficient storage system.” – LE, Consumer Goods/Retail
  • “Nimble – improves price for performance without sacrificing capacity.” – MSE, Telecom/Technology
  • “Nimble, I like the back-end flash. The price performance is getting better.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “Name escapes me – they jumped from Data Domain and started their own company. Nimble – I think – going to solid state and VDI, this seems to be the trend.” – LE, Telecom/Technology

Competition in automated tiering is heating up for the second-bests

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Nikolay Yamakawa, Analyst for TheInfoPro

The provision of automated tiering features in storage solutions should be gaining momentum, not by inches but by miles, due to the benefits. Not surprisingly, Wave 16 of the Storage Study revealed that 36% of companies are fully utilizing automated tiering, not including the pilot programs, compared to only 7% in the prior study. This increased use of automated tiering indicates a strong demand for the feature. The current demand is also reinforced with strong future expectations. Fifty-two percent (52%) of survey respondents with the technology ‘in use’ or ‘plan’ were to spend more on automated tiering in 2012, compared to 21% in 2011.

EMC has a lead role in the automated tiering market and is implementing a clever strategy to continue holding the torch in the future. The company rolls the cost of its automated tiering feature into its array offering, so customers do not see it as a different line item in their budgets. The runner-ups have to react to EMC’s strategy in order to keep up.

Indeed, business matters are less clear for the runner-ups. Dell is currently the second most used vendor for automated tiering. However, the study also showed that Dell has fewer customer pilot studies and evaluations, in addition to weaker indications by storage pros to start implementing its technology in the short and long term, than the third and fourth runner-ups, which are currently IBM and HDS.

Notably, the three closest runner-ups to EMC did not even include Dell, IBM or HDS in the last study. The mix for the most commonly used vendors for automated tiering still has room for change based on the rapidly expanding market and the acquisitions, alliances and strategies that vendors may choose to implement this year. The benefits that automated tiering technology can bring will become more critical in years to come for both customers and those vendors that are trying to strengthen their position in the storage industry.

Automated Tiering

The following feedback was provided by the commentator network:

  • “Exciting features like automated tiering, but no vendors in particular come to mind. We’re looking at NetApp for NAS, so maybe this is exciting.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “[Fujitsu storage products are] very reliable and high performing, but behind the curve on things like automated tiering.” – LE, Telecom/Technology
  • “EMC rolls the cost of automated tiering into the array purchase, so we do not really see it as a different item in our budget.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “HDS has not really pushed auto-tiering to us as much as EMC has. The odds are we will deploy with EMC sooner as a result.” – LE, Telecom/Technology
  • “We plan to exploit automated tiering more in the coming year, so our ELA will go up.” – LE, Financial Services

Dell: the Enterprise Storage Vendor

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Marco Coulter, Research Director for Storage

Dell now has multiple suitors to purchase the company with visions of either taking it private, or keeping it publicly traded. While Dell’s traditional reputation is as a server company, it achieved an interesting transformation in the perceptions and storage budgets of enterprises.

When Dell’s main internal offering was the EqualLogic iSCSI array, it was seen as a small-business storage vendor. If it appeared in large enterprises, and thus in TheInfoPro’s storage research, it was mainly EMC hardware purchased through a Dell OEM contract. After acquiring Compellent in 2010, and thus directly competing with EMC, EMC began taking the OEM customers direct. Year-over-year revenue for Dell storage suffered, but at the same time the perception of enterprise storage professionals gradually transformed.

With the subsequent acquisitions of AppAssure and Qwest, among others, Dell found a foothold in large and midsize enterprises – a strategic foothold. While not the leader in any, Dell now receives selections as an ‘in use’ vendor for: FC SAN enterprise arrays, solid state in hybrid arrays, solid state in servers, SAS drives, converged infrastructure, backup data reduction/de-duplication, server backup, primary data reduction/de-duplication, archiving, and automated tiering, where it is the second most selected vendor (see chart below).

Dell is no threat yet to the major storage vendors. EMC, NetApp, HDS, IBM and HP all receive more selections for vendors cited for best products in production, leaving Dell in sixth place. Dell is making good acquisitions, and its success will rely on combining these into coherent solutions.

  • “[Dell and HP's] strategy of buying companies like 3PAR, EqualLogic and Compellent is interesting and helps differentiate them from HDS and EMC, which they could never take on otherwise.” – LE, Industrial/Manufacturing
  • “[Dell/Compellent's] roadmaps are very exciting, and will help with private cloud development and deployment.” – MSE, Education
  • “Their cost, competitiveness and their future vision is a big strength. They are further along the storage virtualization path than the other vendors. The cost is still a problem, mostly due to the immaturity of storage virtualization. Compared to the other vendors, Dell does not have the track record, nor the ‘baggage’ of the other vendors.” – LE, Materials/Chemicals
  • “Dell is easy to buy from, the opposite from IBM. They are very transparent in the process. Downside, they are not at the same level of innovation such as EMC or NetApp.” – MSE, Other

EMC Big in Plans for Big Data Arrays

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Written by Marco Coulter, Research Director for Storage

Big data analytics is potentially one of the most valuable revenue-altering technologies in years. The opportunity to deeply understand customers through predictive real-time analysis is already improving marketing campaigns for private business and even the US presidential race. Almost one in five storage professionals use big data arrays. Though 15th on our heat index, the technology is still in early adoption. You may recall in April’s ‘Is Big Data a Big Deal?’ that 56% had no plans for the technology. As valuable as big data analytics can be, the limited plans imply a difference to regular storage technology. As one large financial services respondent pointed out, “It does not start with the storage guys, the business users have to want this.”

EMC dominates selections for short and long-term plans, notwithstanding current marginal leadership for selection in use. The 2010 acquisition of Greenplum provided EMC with a variety of analytics capabilities seeming tailor-made to sit above the Isilon acquisition later that year, adding scale-out and scale-up capacity to the overall offering.

IBM’s second place is mainly based on the Netezza offering, itself a 2010 acquisition. Other vendors like HDS and NetApp are seen as enterprise storage that can support big data analytics though offering more of a pre-certified architecture than a single-vendor offering.

As a business builder, the ROI time frame for big data analytics can be quite short. The iterative nature of big data analytic projects sees systems start small and may be outside the radar of enterprise storage professionals. A rapid vendor appraisal is required when that business case is approved. An understanding of offerings from the major vendors will allow rapid definition of strengths and weaknesses when that request comes in. A little caution is required; some of our narratives indicate not all big data arrays were delivering all the enterprise features respondents expected.

  • “Looking at EMC version of Hadoop, and also at some other companies.” – LE, Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals
  • “We are looking at the buying strategies of our clients and using that to guide the marketing strategies for TV ads, etc.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “[We use big data analytics for] rate calculations and risk calculations based on demographics, geography, crime rates, etc.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “Cloudera distribution of Hadoop/HBASE. Some use of Greenplum, investigating Netezza/Appliances.” – MSE, Services: Business/Accounting/Engineering
  • “The one we specifically think of as ‘big data’ uses an IBM Netezza [appliance], so it is dedicated 50TB of storage. We would like to get that moved to our general networked storage when it comes due for a refresh, as it does not support backup. (The backup is achieved by copying it to our SAN-connected IBM XIV and backing up from there.)” – LE, Financial Services
  • “We have a marketing data warehouse analyzing buying strategy. Using IBM InfoSphere DataStage.” – LE, Financial Services
  • “While the big data/Hadoop database has been growing over the last few years, we are reaching the truncate date, so this growth should plateau next year.” – LE, Financial Services