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Gartner Quadrant Indicates Storage Shakeup Imminent Amidst Declining Revenues

Gartner has released the 2017 Magic Quadrant for General Purpose Disk Arrays (GPDA). Besides a handful of new entrants and dropouts (mainly due to mergers or acquisitions), there has not been a lot of change since the 2016 edition was released in October last year. For easy comparison, here are the two Magic Quadrants side-by-side.

HPE has emerged ahead of the pack in 2017 in the Leadership quadrant, clearly strengthened by the acquisition of Nimble Storage last April. Hot on HPE’s heels are NetApp and Dell EMC, each with their own broad storage portfolio, vision and strategy to gain a larger market share.

However, according to Gartner, the GPDA market is declining on both revenue and unit basis, even as capacity shipped continues to grow. On a positive note, this has made vendors more innovative and aggressive in driving up customer satisfaction.

As with previous years, much of the innovation in this space seems to be coming from emerging vendors, particularly those in the Visionaries quadrant. So much so that it has become a trend for these nimble (no pun intended) and innovative start-ups to be gobbled up by one of the bigger tech players. The latest winner, or casualty depending on how you look at it, being Tagile, which was acquired by Western Digital several months ago.

Of the new entrants, we question the inclusion of Lenovo in this year’s Magic Quadrant as it is a company that does not really develop its own storage but rather partners with other technology providers to build its portfolio. Whilst we feel that Synology is deserving of a spot, it raises the question as to why another similarly profiled company, QNAP, is not on the quadrant.

We also question whether Tintri should still be considered a Visionary in this space when many others are now making VM-aware storage arrays. Anecdotally we have also seen their team decline significantly in Asia over the past year.

As for what to look out for in the future, we wonder whether Hitachi Vantara (previously HDS) will be able to maintain its Leadership position now that Hitachi is ramping up its focus on IoT. Last but not least, could Inspur be the hidden gem that’s set to shake things up? It certainly is a massive company with huge resources, but remains largely unknown outside of China. Could it be the next Huawei? Given its heritage in servers, it may be better positioned in the long term than the more famous Huawei to become a real storage powerhouse.

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