Shifting businesses in storage-land

The last few months/year there happened a lot in storage-land:
– Cisco is working with SpringPath to sell their Hyperflex solution (1-3-2016).
– EMC has been bought by Dell (7-9-2016), so VMware (which is a part of EMC) is also a part of Dell)
– Simplivity has been bought by HPE (18-1-2017).
– Nimble has been bought by HPE (8-3-2017).
– Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) solutions are expanding in the datacenter-market.
– Everyone is into All-Flash (AF).
– NetApp bought SolidFire (2-2-2016) and they immediately hit the number #1 spot in the AF-market + NetApp announced (feb-2017) to enter the HCI market with SolidFire-ish HCI solution combined with Data Fabric (an all-flash hybrid cloud hyper converged infrastructure storage solution).

All vendors are doing nice jobs, but with such a great diversity of solutions and changes in the market, the customers having trouble (or even overwhelmed by) on which horse they should bet and they are mostly stay (for the sake of a trustworthy feeling) to a new model of their current vendor.
And I think that’s not a good thing:
What you see is a shift of many smaller storage-vendors towards big-players (Dell, Cisco, HPE) that want to deliver an all-in-one solution. But when you talk about an all-in-one solution, you’re mostly talking about Hyper Converged Infrastructures solutions.
HCI solutions combine compute resources (servers) integrated with a Software Defined Storage solution and a Software Defined Network solution (3 in 1 solution).
The only thing is: Hyper Converged Infrastructures has a downside! Although HCI scales very well, you  have to scale your compute-resources with you storage-resources and that’s a pain in the ass if it comes to your scalability needs.
Also the processor-licensing in HCI environments can be outrageous.
For curtain scenarios it’s fine (VDI, ROBO-sites, small-VSI), but there are limited use-cases for Enterprise environments.
For Enterprise environments there are Converged Infrastructure (FlexPod, SmartStack, FlashStack, etc). but with all those acquisitions lately customers are losing their focus: “are their storage investments futureproof?”
Add the All-Flash propositions to this and customers are totally lost.

There are a few big players out there that are buying smaller storage vendors, so I want to inform you about those:

– HPE is like an elephant which has to run a marathon: for a very long time HPE had no innovation in storage-land and with the acquisitions lately they try to be a big storage player again.
We will have to wait where all those acquisitions will end-up?

– With the acquisition of EMC, Dell bought 2 big companies in one buy (EMC and VMware), so they become a big-player instantly! They were already are a big-player, but now on multiple disciplines (servers, storage and virtualization).
They also bought BigSwitch, which is an Software Defined Network solution.
Dell has the power and knowledge to come up with an all-in-one solution for both HCI and CI.
It’s just matter of time they will introduce this all-in-one product!

– Cisco has entered the storage-market with Hyperflex (again).
A few years ago they bought Whiptail (an All-Flash storage solution), which has been sent to the garbage-bin after a few months already.
Cisco  is trying to compete leveraging Hyperflex with other HCI players (like Nutanix, VXrail/VSAN, etc). With the introduction of All Flash Hyperflex nodes they become more relevant in the All Flash HCI market.
Cisco also delivers server-hardware for other HCI-storage vendor (like VMware VSAN, Simplifity, Cohesity, etcetera..), so they also lift on the success of them.

Cisco is a leader in converged infrastructure solutions, because of their server- and network solutions: they rely on other storage solutions (NetApp, Pure, IBM, HPE/Simplivity) for delivering a complete stack.
It’s not unthinkable that HPE/Simplivity will retract themself of this 
collaboration and come up with an own converged infrastructure solution.

The only 2 real relevant storage-only companies are NetApp and Pure.
Were Pure delivers All-Flash only storage solutions and NetApp delivers a whole packages of solutions. With the recent acquisition of SolidFire by NetApp, they made a great leap forward into the All-Flash market (and become the number #1 AllFlash solution in the market) AND they introduced that they are going into the HCI market soon (with a solidfire/data fabric-ish solution). which means: they are entering the All-Flash Hyper Converged Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure market.
Wait is there a market out there for this? 🙂

Cisco will lift on those companies, were HPE and Dell are on their own .. so choose wisely!

I’ve not mentioned other storage solutions (like HDS, Fujitsu, Infinidat, etc) because they deliver good (and fast) old-fashion SAN solutions, but lack integration features which current enterprises (cloud-platforms) are demanding. They deliver (very) good solutions for service provider environments.

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