We’re in the first month of 2011 and the storage landscape is already in turmoil, EMC just announced their new low and midrange platform (collectively named VNX) and 2010 acquisitions are taking shape (Dell + Compellent and HP + 3Par).
So what’s the storage landscape at the dawn of 2011 (in rigorous alphabetical order)?
The latest 2010 acquisition brought Compellent into Dell’s arms, ending de facto the Dell / EMC partnership (this was also acknowledged by Joe Tucci during their last earnings call), now Dell has one of the strongest proposition (sometimes overlapping) on the low and midrange market, they will probably start pushing it primarily to the joint EMC / Dell customers in order to gain traction in the market. Dell is competing in the 2011 market with their MD3000 offering (low end SAS and iSCSI array), their market leading Equallogic iSCSI arrays and now with their newly acquired Compellent Storage Center. Dell still has EMC products in their portfolio but they’re probably not going to leverage them much in 2011.
EMC did a big announcement this month with new products, with the great fanfare given to their VNXe (where “e” is for “entry level”) EMC made a clear statement: IT generalists storage segment (the $10K range) is getting bigger and bigger.
VNXe is the real deal breaker here, It’s also the only real new product that debuted during the January 18th event because the new VNX line is currently just a little more than a mere rebrand of the Clariion + Celerra bundle. EMC will join NetApp (FAS2000), Dell (MD3000 and Equallogic) and HP (P2000 and low end P4000) in the turf battle for the low-end market.
EMC also got their hand on Isilon during 2010 and their scale-out NAS is going to be an important piece of the 2011 storage puzzle, it is still unclear if it will be digested in the common development framework featured in the VNX line or if it will be kept as a standalone system, sure is that EMC is investing heavily in pNFS which is featured almost all across the board.
EMC also revamped their VMAX software with their Enginuity 5875 that finally feature FAST VP (automated storage tiering) and other enhancements that, EMC claims, will push VMAX performances up to 2x.
Hitachi Data Systems still focus their effort on their new VSP array that employs a couple of enterprise storage firsts like small form factor drives (2.5 inches), a full SAS backend and standard racks. They also revamped their HiCommand suite but their low and midrange offer (SMS and AMS) is still lagging behind the competition (no unified proposition, no 2.0 features), will 2011 be the year of the midrange at HDS? Let’s just hope so.
In the higher end of the market we saw the rise of HP that outbid Dell in a harsh bid war that ensued during the summer (somehow like the NetApp / EMC bid war for DataDomain). 3Par proposition will fit in HP lacking vision for high-end storage (so much for their OEM partnership with Hitachi) giving them a huge boost technology wise, with the smartest high end storage around.
HP acquired IBRIX during 2010 making their move in the scale-out NAS space and they also started restructuring their storage lineup using a consistent namespace:
- P2000 – which is the MSA low-end array family.
- P4000 – their LeftHand iSCSI offering.
- P6000 – This is the new name for their EVA family arrays.
- P8000(?) – the new 3Par offering, name is not defined yet.
- P9000 – their rebranded Hitachi USP offering.
- X9000 – IBRIX scale-out NAS.
A definitely much clear nomenclature, but I still have my doubts that EVA will live through given the low investment in R&D and the fact that 3Par has a scaled down version of their array that is feature rich and, in my opinion, more competitive in the market.
Now we have IBM, with the most confusing storage proposition ever. Where to start? We have the LSI OEM agreement that bring us the low end market DS3000 and midrange DS5000, then we have the NetApp OEM that brings all the NetApp portfolio, ranging from the small N3000 (FAS2000) to the high end N7000 (FAS6000), and that’s only the OEM’d stuff.
Then we have their new kid on the block, the Storwize 7000V (Storwize has been bought by IBM but no Storwize technology is included in that product), this is in my opinion the most interesting piece of storage in the IBM lineup, it borrows the GUI from XIV (more on that later), the RAID code and Easy Tier from their flagship DS8000 and external virtualization capabilities from SVC, right now is positioned in the mid range but feature-wise can be disruptive if scaled to the higher end.
The red-headed stepchild in the IBM family is definitely XIV, all the IBM people still show some love for that unfortunate storage but it’s clear (see 7000V) that it’s a product that is going to be dismissed in the next future. The last piece of IBM tech is their high end DS8000 that is still strong, despite what the competitor say.
IBM also presented its new scale-out NAS called SONAS: it's a product built in-house (kudos to IBM for that) based on IBM's own GPFS massively parallel filesystem, and it will be a real though competitor in the scale-out NAS marketplace (which is going to explode in 2011).
NetApp entered into the Object Storage arena acquiring Bycast, one of the prominent players in that space, acquiring their flagship product called StorageGRID that has been added to their portfolio as-is (they’re probably not going to reenact the Spinnaker tragedy).
They also acquired a small company called Akorri (more on that here) which has a good SRM/Analysis product called BalancePoint, but still no words if it’s going to be tightly integrated with SanScreen. In the meantime NetApp refreshed their hardware lineup with new FAS3000 and 6000 models with upgraded hardware, introduced SAS2 cards and enclosures (also supporting 2,5 inches SFF drives) and finally acknowledged that SSDs also belongs to the Tier 0, not just to the cache.
Obviously I included only the biggest names in the storage industry, but we have a nice rack of new storage startups that are taking shape, I also posted a question on Quora on this matter that sparked a nice list of startups to watch, as someone said before me: “we live in interesting times”, interesting times ahead indeed.