Pure Gold: Flash Vendor Predicts 30%-Plus CAGR, $35-Billion TAM

SAN FRANCISCO: Pure Storage has made it to the big leagues, having outfought, out-thought and outlasted the hordes of competitors in the enterprise flash storage market, which is experiencing explosive growth in the rapidly emerging digital transformation/big data and analytics/Internet of Things world. No longer relegated to the ‘Others’ category, it is a top-five player that looks too big to buy (Dell EMC, like James Bond, proves you should Never Say Never Again, but an acquisition — or at least a suitable acquisitor — appears unlikely) and too small to thrive without some help, typically a significant barrier to entry like proprietary (and popular) intellectual property, large installed base or deep pockets. With both the $1-billion revenue plateau and its first quarterly profit within reach in calendar 2017, the Puritan elders — AKA its senior executives — are predicting even bigger things to come, like at least three more years of 30%-plus revenue growth, surpassing the $2-billion annual revenue mark by 2020. That prediction was just one of the items announced to more than 3,000 customers, partners and staff (with another 2,000 online, for a total increase of 300% over last year’s inaugural event), at this week’s Pure//Accelerate 2017. Unlike the overall enterprise storage market, which continues to see capacity shipment growth at the expense of revenue and margin growth, the flash market, especially all flash arrays (AFAs), is growing explosively — 48% in the first quarter. Sales were a little over $1.3 billion, with Pure Storage holding down fourth place with 12% market share, behind Dell EMC (29%), NetApp (21%), HPE (17%), and comfortably ahead of IBM (7%). “All-flash array is the only segment growing in the external storage market space,” said Jimmy Yu, Dell’Oro Group vice president, in a statement. “While the total market for external storage has contracted for the past two years, and will likely decline again this year, all flash storage system sales are reaching all new highs. We predict all-flash array revenue to grow approximately 40 percent in 2017 to reach nearly $7 billion while disk and hybrid storage system revenues decline about 14 percent.” AFA’s future is looking even brighter, according to both flash guru Jim Handy, GM of semiconductor research group, Objective Analysis, and Gartner. Handy expects a manufacturing breakthrough in high-capacity 3D NAND chips next year that will further lower AFA prices. Gartner is predicting that half of all data centers will only use AFA for primary storage by 2020, with the market growing to $9.67 billion. Pure believes the total addressable market for its faster solid-state storage arrays is $35 billion. Dave Vellante, chief analyst of Wikibon, agrees the...

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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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Dell: Disk Isn’t Dead But…
Jul22

Dell: Disk Isn’t Dead But…

If it was just about adding the latest media type – in this case SSDs based on Triple Level Cell 3D NAND technology – then Dell’s bragging rights for the lowest-cost enterprise flash would last just as long as it took for its flash storage competitors to jump on the TLC bandwagon. In other words, not very long. However Dell’s secret sauce – a virtualized storage array architecture that automatically leverages multiple flash types and hard drives in the same array based on workload goals and usage patterns – gives it a significant advantage over the competition that must offer less elegant, and more expensive, solutions. “Dell’s unique intelligent data placement strategy allows different types of flash storage — SLC, MLC and TLC — to be efficiently deployed in multiple tier architectures that can be more cost-effective than single tier flash-based arrays,” said Eric Burgener, research director, storage systems, IDC, in a prepared statement. “Dell’s announcement of flash drives built on TLC 3D NAND technology puts them in the storage density lead at 45TB per rack unit for flash-based arrays and drops the dollar per gigabyte cost of enterprise flash storage to roughly the same cost as 15K RPM HDDs — with significantly higher performance. Cost has been the single biggest stumbling block to flash adoption in the data center, and Dell’s announcement of a new lower dollar per gigabyte price point for all-flash configurations enables the use of flash technology across an even greater variety of enterprise workloads.” Due to ship next month, the Dell Storage SC Series arrays with TLC-based Mainstream Read-Intensive (RI) SSDs offer up to 24x performance improvement and the same price for capacity as 15K hard disk drives, and double the density – 90 terabytes of raw flash capacity per 2U array. The company can now offer SC4020 all-flash mid-tier solutions for as low as $1.66 per gigabyte and as low as $0.58 per gigabyte for typical mid-tier hybrid flash configurations, said Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Dell Storage. The $1.66/GB claim is based on an SC4020 with the raw capacity of (24) 3.8 TB Mainstream RI (TLC 3D NAND) drives. It includes comparing this 2U “all-in-one” solution (which includes dual controllers, core software, installation services and the typical industry 3-year support contract) against the industry’s leading storage vendors’ street price on similar mid-range all-flash arrays over 1TB: Dell (SC4020); EMC (VNX5200; VNX-F5000); HP (3PAR 7200 and 7200c); NetApp (FAS2520); IBM (V5000); Pure Storage (FA-450); and HDS (HUS110). The numbers are misleading, adds Vigil, however, which weights the advantage even more in Dell’s favor. The $1.66/Gb price is based on Dell’s raw numbers compared with...

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Who’s On First? IDC, Gartner Anoint Storage Winners But…
Sep23

Who’s On First? IDC, Gartner Anoint Storage Winners But…

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 –Pure Storage Named A Leader In Inaugural Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays -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...

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Violin Concerto in D (As In Dedupe for VDI, Virtual Servers)
Aug19

Violin Concerto in D (As In Dedupe for VDI, Virtual Servers)

In the sequel (still no Ripley, Alien or even a Predator) to http://bit.ly/1hpjINq Violin Memory’s June announcement of  enterprise data services software on the Concerto 7000 All Flash Array, the flash storage vendor is unveiling in-line dedupe and compression for VDI and virtual servers on its 64TB all-flash array. “For VDI and virtual servers, it’s a great use case,” said Violin CMO Eric Herzog. For other applications, like transaction processing, less so, he told IT Trends & Analysis. The dashboard tells users if the dedupe is helping or not, and if not, then they can turn it off, he said. Virtually every storage vendor is selling all-flash arrays, said Herzog, but to really succeed in the enterprise, you need to provide the sophisticated services currently available on lower-cost disk arrays. Available today – a week before VMworld – Concerto 2200 software for the 6000 and 7000 arrays features: 672TB in 13RU; effective cost/GB as low as $1.81/GB street ($4.02/GB list); effective cost/desktop as low as $75/desktop street ($166/desktop list); granular control based on application needs; and, NFS ingest. Earlier this month Violin announced its 6100 all-flash array and the extension of its pay-as-you-grow capacity pricing option, which provides a software license-based capacity expansion option, ‘delivering automatic scaling of capacity without having to order and install additional capacity ahead of real needs.’ Herzog said the 6100 enables the company to reach out to a broader customer and application set. “Smaller enterprises and more focused deployments within large and global enterprises can now benefit from Violin performance, density, and scalability without the upfront investments needed for larger environments.” There are three reasons for the latest announcement, he said. First it’s just the natural evolution of the product portfolio. Second, people doing VDI in particular like this feature, and they have a lot of customers doing VDI. Finally, it’s a check-box item. “A lot of guys are out there with dedupe already, and customers are asking when are you going to do it.” He said they may not sell a lot of them based on the dedupe feature, but it’s a great feature to have, and Violin has to have it. Two weeks ago, when IBM announced its latest all-flash array, the company stated that the high performance array market is reaching the tipping point where flash will replace disk. “Clients are starting to say they are not sure if they will spend any money on high-performance disks moving forward,” said Michael Kuhn, VP of IBM Flash. According to a new IDC survey of over 1,000 IT storage administrators, the tide is turning in the enterprise adoption of flash-based storage for data...

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