Like death and taxes, you can count on a veritable flood of press releases, blogs, tweets, emails and every other conceivable form of communications to pour out when analysts provide quarterly, annual or one-off report cards on vendors and markets. The most recent deluge occurred with the releases of Gartner’s inaugural Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays and IDC’s second quarter Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker. According to the press releases, blogs, tweets, emails and every other conceivable form of communications, — i.e.
-New Gartner Magic Quadrant Names EMC a Solid-State Array Leader
–IBM Named #1 in Software Defined Storage Platforms
-Gartner ranks SolidFire #1 for overall flash use case in the Critical Capabilities Study and recognizes SolidFire as a Visionary in the 2014 Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays;
— there were many winners, but some – like Dell – were less obvious than others. IDC ranks Dell as No. 1 in several key market segments, blogs Alan Atkinson,VP and GM, Dell Storage, but when you combine both external and internal storage shipments, his company is the BIGGEST (enterprise) storage vendor. That’s not to take away from Seagate, which recently announced shipping its 10 millionth solid-state hybrid drive, and regularly ships millions of enterprise drives on a quarterly basis, but they aren’t included in the IDC study.
Dell was included in the IDC Q2 external disk study, along with EMC, NetApp, IBM, HP and Hitachi (HDS). According to IDC, factory revenues were down 1.4% year-over-year to $5.9 billion, but the combination of internal and external revenues were up 0.3% to $7.8 billion. Total capacity shipped was up 23.9% YoY, to 11.5 exabytes, but that was considered relatively low by historic comparisons.
For external drive revenues, EMC held on to top spot (30.1% share), but dropped 5.2%, followed by NetApp (13%), IBM (12.1%), HP (10.1%), Dell (7.2%) and Hitachi (6.4%). Dell still only came in fourth in revenues for total disk storage system shipment revenues, behind EMC, HP and IBM, but ahead of NetApp and the 25.8% earned by every other storage vendor out there.
However, when you consider capacity shipments, both internal and external, Dell said it leads all enterprise vendors in terabytes shipped in the first half of 2014. In this time, IDC reports that Dell has shipped 4,311,728 terabytes – or more than 4,300 petabytes or north of 4 exabytes – of storage. Dell grew 14.8% sequentially when compared to the second half of 2013, while several others dipped in terabytes of storage shipments – EMC (-7.7%), HP (-6.2%) and IBM (-7.8%).
There’s more to this announcement than bragging rights, wrote Atkinson. It highlights the blurring of the lines between servers and storage due to the emergence of converged infrastructure and software defined storage. “This latest ranking and rapid increase in our customer base demonstrate Dell’s ability to successfully offer customers both traditional external arrays and, as storage continues to move closer to the compute node, internal storage with our server business.”
As the lines between servers and storage continue to blur with IT convergence, server-side flash and software-defined storage, this combined total of internal and external becomes quite significant, Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Dell Storage, told IT Trends & Analysis. “I think overall we see this trend and our customers are telling us this is a trend to put more storage in the server… (and) what you see from Dell is a strategy centered on customer choice.”
Both Vigil and Atkinson referred to the company’s initiatives with Fluid Cache for SAN, PCI Express Flash and “Project Blue Thunder” (software-defined storage/SDS), as well as partnerships (i.e. Nutanix, VMware) as examples of this convergence and customer-choice focus. Another market driver, perhaps the real Dell difference, is tackling complexity.
“The market is becoming more complex, more choices so what we’re trying to do is simplify choices,” said Vigil, “… and working to minimize the silos and actually bridge servers and storage with technologies like Fluid Cache. More and more customers are looking for the combination of the three…. server, storage, and networking… to solve business issues”.
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