Pure Flash: Catching Up Or Racing Ahead?
Jun15

Pure Flash: Catching Up Or Racing Ahead?

SAN FRANCISCO: There were a number of product announcements, some fascinating market research, and insights into the future provided at, and leading up to, this week’s Pure//Accelerate 2017, the second annual customer/partner event from enterprise flash storage market light-heavyweight Pure Storage, Nearing the $1-billion revenue mark, the company is comfortably in the top five flash vendors and offers an interesting perspective on where the market is, and where it might be going. The company’s marketing slogan — or at least one of them — is software-driven, hardware-accelerated, so it’s appropriate that there were more than 25 software announcements, all delivered in evergreen, all seamless upgrades. “Our core DNA is software,” said Scott ‘Dietz’ Dietzen, CEO of Pure Storage. The announcements included: Pure1 META, it’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform for delivering on the vision of self-driving storage; its vision for the data platform for the cloud era; major updates to its flagship software, Purity, Purity for FlashArray 5.0, and Purity for FlashBlade 2.0; and Purity CloudSnap, which extends Purity’s Snapshots to FlashBlade, NFS, and the public cloud. In April Pure announced FlashArray//X, the first mainstream all-NVMe FlashArray,  a new protocol for communicating with flash that provides the ‘low-latency and parallelism that promises to take the potential of flash to new heights,’ blogged Max Kixmoeller, Pure’s VP, Products. A month later it launched the NVMe Now promotion, an extension to the company’s TB-for-TB trade-in program Evergreen Storage. Through October 31, 2017, organizations using VMAX and XtremIO can upgrade to FlashArray//X, providing customers a “total cost of ownership savings of close to 50 percent over six years.” When asked how Pure’s portfolio now compares to the competition, storage guru Mark Peters, ESG Practice Director and Senior Analyst (Storage), Enterprise Strategy Group, gave them a solid ‘B’ and said they are now comparable, with the following caveats. It depends on how your define their competition and how you define their portfolio, he explained. “Assuming you are comparing to other AFA folks and just on the product rather than all the consumption and support choices, then they are now (at last) at least on par… maybe even with some nice advanced differentiators. If you compare to a broader storage, HCI or IT provider, clearly they have a long way to go.” If you assume it’s by how you define their portfolio, he views it as an iceberg. “To date we are only seeing a small % above the water (hence the solid “B”….but their architecture and approach means that their portfolio has immense extensibility — we are just not exposed to it all yet (so maybe an A’).” At least one competitor appears concerned about...

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Data Center Transformation, Powered by NetApp Transformation

It’s no secret that NetApp has had a tough go of things these past few years, but I’ve just returned from its annual industry analyst meeting and it was clear to me during this full day discussion that NetApp today is not the NetApp of yesterday. In our internal discussions these past few years, we acknowledged that it had an excellent technology foundation, had made some good acquisitions but executed bad integrations, and needed a significant overhaul – a transformation, if you will – including getting beyond selling storage boxes. For example: up leveling the discussion rather than selling speeds and feeds; expanding the portfolio beyond storage to deliver more value; ridding itself of the antibodies that prevented acquired technology from thriving; and being bold(er) in its marketing. NetApp was famous for technology innovations it never told anyone about (while other, bolder vendors claimed first mover advantage!) In the past two years, it has transformed to the point that the discussions we are having with it today are completely different than those we have had in the past. It is certainly not your father’s NetApp! To read the complete article, CLICK...

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HPE: “Nowhere Left To Hide”
Jun08

HPE: “Nowhere Left To Hide”

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is in Sin City this week, holding its annual customer and partner event (HPE Discover 2017), accompanied with the usual flurry of product announcements and preceded by another troubling financial report. HPE’s Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer, believes the company is heading for an upswing, “accelerating out of the turnaround”, according to a recent interview. “I can feel it,” she said. “It is just smarter, easier, simpler. You cannot underestimate the accountability. There is nowhere left to hide at this company. I see a perfect place. There is nowhere left for partners to hide. There is no place for HPE employees to hide. It just makes things far easier and, frankly, more fun because you can get stuff done faster.” Faster, maybe, but better? HPE’s commodity hardware businesses and primary revenue generators — servers, storage, and to a lesser extent, networking — all took hits in the most recent quarter, with the to-be-expected impacts on revenues and margins. Second quarter FY17, announced on May 31, included a 13% year-over-year drop in GAAP net revenue ($7.4 billion vs $8.5 billion), and a more than 50% drop in GAAP operating margin (2.4% vs 2016’s 5.3%). While Whitman is predicting a speedy upturn, the current performance is not reassuring: -Enterprise Group revenue was $6.2 billion, down 13% year over year, down 7% when adjusted for divestitures and currency, with an 8.8% operating margin; -servers revenue was down 14%; -storage revenue was down 13%; and, -networking revenue was down 30%. Overall IT spending is expected to inch up 1.4% this year, to $3.5 trillion, with the datacenter segment pegged at a very anemic 0.3% growth. “We are seeing a shift in who is buying servers and who they are buying them from” said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. “Enterprises are moving away from buying servers from the traditional vendors and instead renting server power in the cloud from companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft. This has created a reduction in spending on servers which is impacting the overall data center system segment.” Vendor revenue for the global server market declined 4.6% to $11.8 billion in 1Q17, but HPE took a much bigger hit, with a 15.8% YoY decline in sales. Second-place Dell — 20.1% vs HPE’s 24.2% market share — grew its revenues 4.7%, while Cisco, IBM, and Lenovo were statistically tied for third place, and all saw revenue declines (3%, 34.7% and 16.5%, respectively). Storage was worse. 4Q16 enterprise factory revenue was down 6.7% YoY, to $11.1 billion, with Dell holding down top spot, courtesy of its EMC acquisition, and with HPE tied with...

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NetApp Looking Good For Its Age! (Video)

Warmer weather in the US also means the heating up of what we often call “show season.” While it was intentionally not a big audience (after all it was just analysts rather than an end-user event), the NetApp event this week in Boulder, Colorado was certainly engaging. Fresh off of some much-improved business results, the NetApp team was justifiably proud of where it is today. And that’s not just about its revenues and finances, it’s also about vision and execution. And those things – together with a willingness to embrace change – are what enable organizations to achieve longevity. With NetApp celebrating its 25 year anniversary, knowing the ingredients to a long life is especially vital. After all the average life of Fortune 500 organizations is only somewhere between 40 and 50 years….and roughly 50% of the 1999 Fortune 500 was gone within a decade! After, admittedly, some tough times, NetApp has now moved beyond stabilization to show renewed vigor together with relevance to where IT is now, and where it is headed as we speak. Whether it is NetApp’s already-way-more-real-than-you-imagined Data Fabric, whether it’s the increasing pragmatism within its sales model and focus brought be a new Cloud BU, or whether it’s the pleasing clarity of its new “Data Driven” tagline, NetApp is portraying a purpose and vitality that seemed lost just a few years back. We shot a short video at the event to give you our insights: in this video we highlight the newly announced NetApp HCI (with a little help from Dale Degen of NetApp). Of course there were many other news items (indeed, just a day after the event, NetApp’s enhanced relationship with Microsoft Azure also became public) but HCI had represented a clear gap in the portfolio so we decided to give it the spotlight for today. To read the complete article, CLICK...

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EMC & SDE: Canniabalize or Be Cannibalized
Sep07

EMC & SDE: Canniabalize or Be Cannibalized

Today’s the day Dell closes the $65-billion EMC acquisition (and Apple releases the iPhone 7), but while the mega-deal has been inching through the regulatory and shareholder approval process, it’s been business as usual for the storage giant, and increasingly, the usual business has involved alternatives to its bread and butter, disk drives. The enterprise storage giant has been pushing flash, AKA solid state drives (SSDs), software-defined storage (SDS), and now, stealing a page from its virtualization business, VMware, software-defined everything (SDE). Also referred to as SDX, SDI (software defined infrastructure) and software-defined environments (IBM’s nom de guerre), SDE is am umbrella term that describes how virtualization and abstracting workloads from the underlying hardware can be used to make IT infrastructures more flexible and agile. In a recent conversation with EMC’s Manuvir Das, SVP, Advanced Software Division, he told IT Trends & Analysis that the current evolution of IT is offering customers a couple of choices in pursuit of shrinking data centers, lower CAPEX and OPEX and the ability to leverage the cloud: some form of do it yourself versus an all-in-one solution, and hardware versus software lock-in (and that at the end of the day, there’s no getting away from software lock-in). With 14 years at Microsoft, including the development of Azure, the company’s public cloud offering, he should know a lot about software lock-in. “The reality is there is nothing beyond software lock in… there is no way a customer can live in a world where there is no lock in somewhere in the stack.” Lock-in is an ongoing concern. “We don’t want to trade a closed hardware world for a closed software world,” said Nick Lippis, ONUG co-founder and co-chairman, said in his opening presentation at the Open Networking User Group spring conference in May. “All too often, the vendors have the upper hand,” stated IDC in a recent report. High switching costs or other “vendor control points,” such as proprietary technology integrations or overly customized applications, can make it too much trouble for enterprise customers to discontinue using one vendor and switch to another. Das said the challenge with a DIY approach to a complete software-defined solution — “the holy grail of what a software defined data center would look like” — is that he sees “very few customers who have the remotest idea of how to do that.” This is not something you get just off the shelf, he added. Of those who have taken this approach, he has yet to meet anybody “with any degree of success.” Lack of success doesn’t appear to be an inhibitor to SDE/SDDC. Vendors fighting for their slice...

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