In my last four columns we looked at all four sections of the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the popular graphic that analyzes and ranks various storage vendors on different products, this one on their ability to provide a primary storage system. Besides the vendors they include and rank, what’s also interesting is who is missing from the quadrant.
Where Are The All-Flash Vendors?
There are no all-flash vendors on the chart. It would seem that you have to include at least one hard disk in your system to be considered. Part of the reason for the lack of inclusion is that all-flash arrays get their own chart, which I guess could lead to another four blogs dissecting those decisions. But first you have to ask, why does this form of storage get its own chart? Every all-flash array vendor that we speak to wants to position their solutions as a complete replacement for primary storage, so shouldn’t they be ranked on the same chart as the more traditional solutions?
Many of the startups on the all-flash chart, including Pure Storage, Violin Memory, SolidFire and Kaminario, have very robust storage services and should be able to compete head to head with the more traditional vendors. All-flash arrays are basically high performing alternatives to hard disk based arrays and they should be evaluated alongside traditional disk systems.
Where Are The Software Defined Storage Vendors?
The same logic goes for software defined storage vendors. Why are they not on the main chart? Maybe you have to sell at least one hard disk and you have to sell hardware to be considered. Similar to all-flash arrays, software defined storage vendors claim that their software can replace legacy storage vendors, so they should be on the same chart. Vendors like Atlantis Computing, StarWind Software, Nexenta, Maxta, Pernix Data and a host of others were left out of the discussion.
Where Are The Startups?
The other interesting question: where are all the startups, and the truly niche players? We discussed the odd absence of Coraid when we examined the Visionary quadrant. Also interesting is the lack of inclusion of GridStore. They offer a Hyper-V focused product that I would say at least deserves to be in the Niche section. These guys do deliver hardware AND even include hard drives in their systems.
Storage Swiss Take
It may be time for Gartner to rethink the whole quadrant paradigm. Today they have charts by category of product, instead I’d suggest they have a chart by objective or use case. For example there should be a primary storage chart, an unstructured data chart, and a protection storage chart.
I’m not sure if the simple X, Y axis is enough anymore. Storage is too critical and too varied to try to squeeze into two dimensions. There are simply far too many times that the type of storage that’s best for a specific data center depends on the use case. This is similar to the “Buyers Guide” concept that we see occasionally. Anointing one winner in a category, without even testing each solution, is doing a disservice to IT professionals.