Gartner recently released its view of the storage industry, ranking vendors on ability to execute and completeness of vision and displaying the results on a graph they call the Magic Quadrant. In my last column I described the components of the quadrant and provided some analysis of what Gartner calls the “Leaders” section. In this column I’ll take a look at the “Visionary” section.
Making it to the Visionary section instead of the Leaders section is not necessarily a bad result. It merely means that the vendor was unable to convince Gartner that they can execute on their vision, but it DOES mean that Gartner believes they have a vision. There are three vendors squarely in this space on the current Storage Magic Quadrant; Nimble Storage, Tintri and Tegile, and one that barely made it in, X-IO Technologies.
All four companies have hybrid storage technology but clearly each bends toward the flash side of that pairing. The three companies comfortably in this quadrant are younger startup types, each growing up in the flash era. Nimble and Tintri created their storage software from a blank slate, where Tegile started with a ZFS foundation. We’ve written extensively about the pros and cons of using ZFS versus starting from scratch in our articles “VM Aware Vs. ZFS Storage” and “Assessing the All-Flash Array Market”.
What differentiates these companies is what they have done beyond their core software. Nimble has added scale-out capabilities to its offering and Tintri has created potentially the best performance analytics on the market. Tegile has enhanced deduplication and compression and offers potentially the lowest cost for a “flash mostly” hybrid storage system.
It is interesting to note that neither Tegile nor Tintri were on last year’s grid, yet both companies have been around for a while. It would seem to me that they should have been at least in the “niche player” section last year. To suddenly appear in the Visionary section seems a bit odd.
Nimble and Tegile seem to be executing well and I would expect one or both of them to move into the leadership section next year. Tintri has had some management changes of late so it will be interesting to see if they can stay on course. We’ve recommended all three to IT planners and so far everyone we have suggested has more than met expectations.
This brings us to X-IO, a repeat from 2013. I like X-IO but am surprised to see them in the Visionary section, or at least so high in that section. They clearly have some unique technology in the way they handle hard disk drives, and the way they decide what data should be on flash. Their engineering team is top-notch, but they have been through more changes in the last few years than practically any company Storage Switzerland tracks. I hope they can execute because of their potential. But hope is not a strategy and we don’t think they should be ranked so high.
Another observation is that Coraid, who was ranked highest in the Visionary section in 2013, is now completely off the grid. Coraid has had some changes in the last year but they continue to announce new products, have recently won a few awards and still have a strong executive team. I could see bumping them down a few notches for the changes but removing them from the quadrant altogether seems a bit odd. Our sense is that they have a strong product and a strong management team. They need to do a better job of getting their message out but certainly deserve to be on the grid.
That wraps up my analysis of the Visionary section of the quadrant. Next up we will take a look at the Challengers section and then wrap this up with an analysis of the Niche players section.