Dell, HPE, NetApp, Pure Storage Lead Gartner’s Primary Storage Arrays Magic Quadrant

Dell Technologies, HPE, NetApp, IBM and Pure Storage top Gartner’s new Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays. Read about each company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Top 13 Leading Primary Storage Players Worldwide

The primary storage array market is evolving around NVMe, AIOps, public cloud integrations and new consumption-based models, according to Gartner’s new Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays that ranks the top storage arrays vendors in the world.

By 2023, at least 20 percent of enterprises will leverage cloud storage management tools to integrate on-premises storage platforms directly with the public cloud for backup and disaster recovery use cases, according to Gartner. Additionally, Gartner predicts that by 2025, at least 50 percent of enterprises will shift toward OpEx-based storage consumption models, up from less than 10 percent in 2020.

A primary storage array’s purpose is to support response time and input/output per second (IOPS)-sensitive structured data workloads. These storage platforms provide a broad library of data services that conserve capacity utilization, protect against data loss, and enhance recovery via local and remote replication.

CRN breaks down the 13 market leading companies who made Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays, along with each company‘s strengths and weaknesses in the space.

Gartner’s Methodology And Inclusion Criteria

To be included in Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays, vendors need to sell arrays through a combination of direct, indirect and OEM channels, with an average selling price of at least $50,000 per array for the entire family of products.

Additionally, each vendor must generate more than $50 million in annual primary storage array revenue and/or have an install base of at least 500 customers within the midmarket and enterprise space. The vendor also has to sell its product under its brand as a stand-alone array platform without requiring customers to bundle it with another company’s storage product.

Vendors who made Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant that were dropped in its new 2020 report were Infortrend, NEC, Silk, Synology and Western Digital.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant ranks vendors on their ability to execute and completeness of vision and places them in four categories: Niche Players (low on vision and execution), Visionaries (good vision but low execution), Challengers (good execution but low vision) and Leaders (excelling in both vision and execution). For this particular Magic Quadrant, no vendors were listed as ‘Visionaries’.

Leader: Pure Storage

Pure Storage took the gold medal for both execution and vision on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company provides its NVMe, FlashArray//X and the lower-cost and performance FlashArray//C storage array products completely through channel partners. Pure Storage mainly targets the enterprise market and across all verticals, offering its modern data experience focused on simplicity, flexibility and AIOps capabilities. This month, Pure Storage hired VMware’s former cloud leader Ajay Singh as its new chief product officer.

Strength: Customers report high satisfaction with the company due to ease of use and flexible consumption models, according to Gartner. Pure Storage has standardized on its internally developed NVMe drive technology supported by nondisruptive migrations and customer-friendly business programs.

Weakness: Gartner said Pure Storage lacks NVMe-oF Fibre Channel network connectivity and stretched metrocluster solutions over Fibre Channel that may be appealing for advanced customers.

Leader: Dell Technologies

Dell Technologies took home the silver medal for execution on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and ranks No. 4 for vision. The Round Rock, Texas-based worldwide enterprise storage market leader provides Dell EMC PowerMax, PowerStore, Unity XT, SC Series and XreamIO external storage arrays for workloads associated with the primary storage. The $91 billion infrastructure giant has been streamlining its storage product over the past few years with customers ranging from SMBs to very large enterprises. The biggest storage push in 2021 for Dell is “all around PowerStore.”

Strength: PowerStore with AppsON enables users to natively deploy VMware vSphere-based virtual machines on the storage array to simplify and cost optimize IT infrastructure. Dell has a strong direct and indirect sale and support presence globally.

Weakness: Gartner said PowerStore has technology gaps involving advanced AIOps management, dual parity resiliency, end-to-end NVMe and native synchronous replication to bring the offering up to a best-in-class level.

Leader: NetApp

NetApp won the silver medal for vision on Garter’s Magic Quadrant and ranks No. 3 for execution. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage specialist offers a portfolio consisting of its AFF, FAS, SolidFire, E-Series and EF-Series which serve a broad range of primary storage workloads. NetApp focuses on a solution-led focus underpinned by its Data Fabric hybrid cloud strategy. The company recently updated its storage software, services and hardware, including a new entry-level NVMe-based array.

Strength: NetApp’s Data Fabric approach, leading product strategy, strong innovation and flexible consumption model Keystone offers organizations a flexible platform to manage data, regardless of its placement. Gartner said NetApp continues to lead in end-to-end NVMe technology.

Weakness: Gartner said NetApp’s sales and marketing strategies do not “fully contemplate the top priorities nor underpin product-value-based benefits of on-premises customer demands,” which makes it difficult for clients to assess product capabilities.

Leader: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE ranks third for vision and fourth for execution on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays. The Houston, Texas-based company’s storage portfolio is characterized by its strong performance, highly available and resilient storage products, as well as its advanced intelligent AIOps data platform based on InfoSight. HPE’s product portfolio consists of HPE Primera, Nimble Storage, 3PAR and XP series. HPE CEO Antonio Neri told CRN last month that he expects to gain market share against its rivals in 2021.

Strength: HPE’s hybrid IT strategy provides an infrastructure platform centric service capability that abstracts hardware asset management complexity and seamless workload mobility across hybrid cloud assets, Gartner said.

Weakness: For high-end enterprise applications, Gartner says HPE lacks a cost-effective storage array to address application consolidation due to its investment shift away from 3PAR and toward Primera, and the positioning of the XP8 to existing XP customers.

Leader: IBM

IBM ranks No. 5 for both vision and execution on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company has revitalized its FlashSystem SSA and hybrid array portfolio, along with its high-end DS8900F SSA offerings, thus covering primary storage workloads from the mainframe to general-purpose storage environments. To boost primary storage, IBM is focusing on advanced engineering solutions to accelerate performance, expand security features to protect against cyberattacks. IBM recently named Martin Schroeter to be CEO of ‘NewCo,’ the new company that will be created this year when IBM spins off its managed infrastructure services business.

Strength: From entry to high end, IBM FlashSystem storage arrays utilizes a common storage operating system, APIs and management for its SSA and hybrid array models.

Weakness: IBM’s attention to the needs in the midmarket market segment is limited, Gartner said. Comprehensive support for general purpose platforms that support file-based protocols is missing from IBM’s primary storage portfolio.

Leader: Huawei

The Chinese technology conglomerate ranks among the middle of the pack for both execution and vision on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. Huawei’s primary storage array portfolio consists of the OceanStor F V5 series, OceanStor Dorado V6 series SSAs and the OceanStor V5 hybrid storage systems, which collectively, address both midrange and high-end storage array requirements. The company has unveiled new series of converged storage systems and released new software updates to the OceanStor Dorado storage arrays. Huawei is tied for third place in terms of global enterprise storage market share.

Strength: By manufacturing its own SSDs and SSD controllers, Huawei is able to optimize flash memory usage and performance, and be competitive in terms of pricing.

Weakness: U.S. trade sanctions could impact Huawei’s roadmap for its next-generation storage systems, Gartner said. The company has limited array-level integration with the leading public cloud players like AWS, Microsoft and Google.

Leader: Hitachi Vantara

Hitachi Vantara ranks among the middle of the pack for both vision and execution on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company’s storage portfolio includes its VSP G series, VSP F series, and the recently announced VSP 5000 series and midrange VSP E990 storage array. The company also offers a 100 percent data availability. Last month, Hitachi Vantara introduced Virtual Storage as a Service, its first enterprise-class cloud service specifically targeted at midrange customers.

Strength: Hitachi Vantara’s high end and midrange storage systems leverage a common architecture and OS, while offering a set of unified AI-powered software tools within Hitachi Ops Center to simplify management.

Weakness: Gartner said Hitachi Vantara customers often cite complexity and difficulty in doing business as the principal reasons when changing vendors or not considering upgrades to existing installations.

Leader: Infinidat

Infinidat ranks among the middle of the pack for both execution and vision on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. The Waltham, Mass.-based company owns InfiniBox, which focuses on high capacity, performance and a storage resiliency. Infinidat has made several major operating system updates to its platform over the past 12 months, including the introduction of active-active replication, concurrent three-site replication, a new Kubernetes CSI drive, and security enhancements. Infinidat customers tend to be very large enterprise and services providers.

Strength: Gartner said product adoption among global Fortune 1000 customers is high due to its 100 percent availability guarantee, high level of customer satisfaction, ease of management and DRAM/flash-optimized performance.

Weakness: Infinidat’s multi-PB architecture is not ideally suitable for enterprises that require less than 250TB of storage, according to Gartner. The company also doesn’t offer an SSA solution.

Challenger: DDN

DDN ranks near the middle of the pack for execution and amongst the bottom half for vision on the Magic Quadrant. The Chatsworth, Calif.-based company acquired Western Digital’s IntelliFlash product line in 2019 to expand its product portfolio consisting of SFA series and DDN Tintri products. An already established high-performance computing (HPC) player, the IntelliFlash and Tintri lines allow DDN to address general-purpose enterprise storage requirements. DDN refreshed its Tintri EC6000 hardware platform and updated the Tintri and SFA operating systems.

Strength: Gartner said DDN’s SFA series continues to demonstrate market leadership for HPC and artificial intelligence storage use cases. Tintri VMstore and IntelliFlash support a broad range of hypervisors, backup vendors, public cloud targets and orchestration tools.

Weakness: Tintri lacks next-generation capabilities such as support for NVMe SSDs and the Container Storage Interface. Tintri VMstore and IntelliFlash are dual controller systems and do not scale beyond two nodes.

Challenger: Lenovo

Lenovo ranks near the middle of the pack for execution and amongst the bottom half for vision on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. Lenovo’s Data Center Group provides its ThinkSystem DM Series and DE Series external enterprise storage arrays target workloads associated with the primary storage market. Lenovo is realigning its sales teams to increase its focus on channel partners and is rebalancing the ratio of technical specialists to account executives in a move to expand its territory coverage and presales support infrastructure. In 2020, the company doubled down on helping customers and channel partners impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Strength: By leveraging its Intel-architecture-based server portfolio, Lenovo is able to provide clients with a single source for external enterprise storage systems and servers. Lenovo’s ThinkSystem DM Series and DE Series platforms are proven and stable, Gartner said.

Weakness: The ThinkSystem DM Series’ IOPS performance does not scale linearly as the number of nodes increases beyond two.

Challenger: Fujitsu

Fujitsu ranks near the bottom of the pack for both vision and execution on the Magic Quadrant. The Tokyo-based company provides the Storage ETERNUS AF SSAs and Storage ETERNUS DX hybrid array systems. In June, Fujitsu formed an OEM agreement with NetApp to enable Fujitsu to sell NetApp FAS, AFF and E-Series via its ETERNUS product line in Japan and its E-Series in Europe. The Fugaku supercomputer, powered by Fujitsu‘s 48-core Arm-based A64FX system-on-chip, was ranked No. 1 in the world‘s top 500 supercomputers list.

Strength: Fujitsu’s ETERNUS midrange systems for both the DX and AF product lines are priced lower than most competitors and provide a solid set of data services.

Weakness: Gartner said ETERNUS AF arrays don’t support end-to-end NVMe capabilities, only use NVMe SSDs as a cache, and fail to provide AIOps support for their storage systems for enhanced post-sales support.

Challenger: Inspur

Inspur ranks near the bottom for both vision and execution on the Magic Quadrant. The Chinese company’s portfolio consists of its HF and AS series that together address a broad range of midrange and high-end storage array requirements. Inspur launched a new an end-to-end NVMe-based midrange storage system with HF5000G5. The majority of its customers are concentrated in China. Inspur is gaining market share in the worldwide enterprise server space.

Strength: Gartner said Inspur’s storage products are “aggressively priced” to win in price-sensitive markets dominated by established global storage vendors.

Weakness: Inspur’s concentration on China may create issues for businesses and partners that operate primarily outside of China. The company’s storage arrays have limited integration with public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Niche Player: Oracle

Gartner ranks Oracle in last place for both vision and execution on its Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays. The Austin, Texas-based software giant offers the Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance ZS7-2 available in all-flash and hybrid configurations, engineered to provide integration with the Oracle Database and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. The company’s primary storage appliances are often deployed alongside Oracle systems such as Oracle Exadata and Oracle Private Cloud Appliance. Oracle joined other industry titans this year, including HPE and Tesla, in moving its headquarter outside of California.

Strength: Oracle ZFS Storage Appliances support block, file and object protocols using the same storage software, and are available under flexible acquisition models.

Weakness: Gartner said Oracle’s lack of significant new R&D investment in ZFS Storage Appliances shows its deemphasizing the importance of the external enterprise storage market in its portfolio. Oracle’s appliances don’t support NVMe-based SSDs for persistent storage.