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Latest Gartner SSD Magic Quadrant is More Baffling Than Insightful

The latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid State Arrays was published on 22nd August  you can review the study here.

The aim of the Magic Quadrants is to provide IT decision makers with a definitive landscape of the movers and shakers in a specific market, in this case Enterprise Flash Arrays.

There is no doubt that appearing as a leader in a Gartner Magic Quadrant is a prized achievement by many vendors. There is a sound logic to this. Many IT decision makers and budget holders get a warm feeling if the vendor they are about to spend money on is featured in a Gartner Magic Quadrant. Its like a “security blanket” where even if something goes wrong down the line, no-one can accuse you of making a hasty or stupid technology decision if Gartner has identified your technology choice as a market leader.

It is not suprising therefore to note that many vendors put resource in terms of people and money into getting onto these magic quadrants. When you consider that part of the criteria of the quadrants is “completeness of vision” it is not unreasonable to question whether those with deeper pockets to spend on courting analysts have more chance to ensure that Gartner analysts “get” their vision over and above vendors who do not have such big budgets to spend on “analyst relations”

We are not suggesting for a moment that Gartner can be “bought” but we are suggesting that companies with larger analyst relations budgets may have more opportunity to present their vision than companies with less analyst focused resource.

So what have learned from the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid State Arrays?

The Latest Magic Quadrant is provided below. We do not see a lot changes from last year in the leaders. The only major difference is that NetApp has now made it into the leaders section.  There is no surprise here, given that NetApp acquired SolidFire last year, if you simply amalgamate the positons of both companies  from last year’s magic quadrant then that pretty much would place them in the leader's square this year. In effect Gartner are telling us that outside of positioning Pure Storage as increasing their lead in completeness of vision, almost nothing in the relative positioning of the market has changed in the last 12 months. 

According to the quadrant EMC remain the strongest at execution and Pure the strongest in vision.

New vendors that made it into the quadrant are HDS, Tintri and X-IO. In each case these companies were already market players with hybrid arrays and the only thing that kept them off of the quadrant until now was the lack of an all flash array.

Vendors that were dropped included Cisco, Nimbus Data System – in both instances we could legitimately question why they were ever featured at all.

From our own perspective we question some of the insight that Gartner has used. If we consider "Completeness of Vision" as an example, in regard to Pure Storage Gartner talk about the FlashBlade array which is scheduled for availability at the end of 2016. Gartner state that “if delivered” will “maintain Pure Storage's cadence of vision and thought leadership in the SSA market.” We really have to contest this. The technology has not yet been delivered and in our view product strategy, and hence their vision is unproven. At best this is a subjective opnion on their vision - we it difficult to regard it as anything more.

Our own subjective position is that Pure has no strong vision for the mid-market and are leaving that open for competitors like HPE and Nimble (omitted from this quadrant) whose vision in that space is more complete than Pure’s.

We monitored the press fall out in the days following the publication of this latest quadrant and reached our own conclusion that far from providing clarity into the market the magic quadrant may actually make it harder to pick through the vendors. Here are a few of the headlines from press releases that crossed our desks.
 
Tegile Named a Visionary in 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays
Tegile recognized for completeness of vision and ability to execute

IBM Named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for its Flash Storage Solutions
IBM FlashSystem Speeds Access to Data Across Hybrid Clouds

 

NetApp Recognized as a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays
Enterprise storage and data management leader accelerates flash adoption with the industry’s broadest all-flash portfolio

 
Pure Storage Retains Leadership Position in Latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays
Leading Independent SSA Vendor Expands Market Share, Positioned the furthest for Completeness of Vision in the Leaders Quadrant
 
EMC is Recognized as a Leader in Gartner’s MQ for the Third Year in a Row!
 
 
These headlines from press releases and blog posts to communicate their position on the magic quadrant tell a story that we all already knew. The companies we all already knew are leaders in flash storage are indeed the leaders in flash storage.
 
Perhaps the real story here was a blog that we picked up from Nimble Storage. The title of that blog is “Why we’re winning with All Flash, yet not in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays”.  Essentially Nimble claim they missed getting onto the quadrant because they launched their all flash product two weeks too late to be included.
 
However, in DSA’s opinion (based on numerous conversations with SI’s in South Asia), Nimble in ASEAN under the guidance of Rachel Ler are doing a great job and appear to be running circles around Pure in the countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. We believe their vison for this market in particular is very complete and their execution is ahead of many on this year's quadrant. This being the case, we really have to question the value of this year's quadrant for any IT professionals in ASEAN. We understand why Gartner did not include them, but in our opinion it devalues the quadrant.
 
(Full disclosure: Nimble are NOT and have NEVER been a customer of DSA or our parent company)
 
So finally for a bit of fun, here is our best guess at what next year’s magic quadrant for Solid State Arrays might look like. It might be interesting to take a look back in 12 months and see if our predictions are materially different from the prestigious quadrant itself!

Is this latest Gartner Magic Quadrant Useful?
Yes
54.4% (31 votes)
No
45.6% (26 votes)
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