What would Einstein say about the latest IDC data storage rankings?

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There is a quote attributed to Einstein along the lines of “Everything should be made as simple as possible… but no simpler.”

Today it seems there are fewer and fewer simple choices. That’s true in data storage, where there is a long list of vendors and choice points to sort through. To help simplify, I thought we could spend a moment talking scorecards and industry directions.

By the numbers

IDC rankings are good indications of what’s hot and what’s not. We’re thankful so many customers trust HPE Storage, as shown in the latest IDC storage report. HPE revenue grew by 8.8% YoY while EMC, IBM, and NetApp declined. That’s 9 consecutive quarters of growth … something no other top 10 vendor has achieved. Other notable stats for HPE include #1 in total storage, #1 in internal storage, and #1 in all-flash arrays within Europe, the Middle East, and Asia (EMEA).

It’s nice to be #1, but we know it’s fleeting and that for IT decision makers these scorecards only tell part of the story. In the next quarter or two, IDC will report Dell/EMC as a single entity. When you combine the two, they’ll be number one. They might continue losing share, but they’ll be a really large company losing share.

Bigger isn’t always better, which leads to industry directions and observations.

A tale of two cities

Virtually every conversation we have with customers focuses on either software-defined storage (SDS) or all-flash storage. These two design centers are very similar to the stated direction of the new Dell Technologies and other industry players, therefore worthy of a quick discussion.

One of Dell/EMC’s first moves was pairing ScaleIO software defined storage to Dell servers. It’s a smart move, and one we made several years ago with HPE ProLiant and HPE StoreVirtual VSA. With over 25,000 successful deployments to date, and counting, we’ve moved beyond the ‘SDS-ready’ server conversation and are excited to talk about how customers can enable a data fabric that unifies discrete servers, hyper-converged deployments, and rack-scale composable infrastructure.

In storage, it’s clear that flash is becoming the new normal. Again EMC and Dell are big; having eight completely disparate flash architectures to choose from. We’ve taken a different approach - a single architecture from entry to enterprise for all data types. This is helping to shift our focus to deeper application integration, hybrid IT automation, and risk reduction – all at flash speed.

What makes these two architectures so simple, is that all of the data services you need are built right in: data compaction, protection and availability, multi-protocol and scale. The only way to make this simpler would be to integrate SDS with the All-Flash design centers to interoperate based on workload requirements, stay tuned…

Which brings us back to choices.

Challenging the status quo

Providing choice is a good idea. But taking a page from Einstein’s razor, we think that maybe the industry has lost sight of the fact that at some point, too many choices leads to confusion. For storage buyers, especially in the mid-market, the choices have grown up around them like weeds. With so many discrete choices going in different directions, it’s easy to get stuck with the wrong choice until the next refresh.

As an industry, we should strive to simplify the choices (as simple as possible) but also to assure that customers can go anywhere and change direction easily (but no simpler). That’s been our focus – designing storage federation into our products rather than federating separate businesses. IT managers should have the flexibility to pick an entry point, and as needs change, move data to a different platform or consumption model without disruption.

While these design centers are not unique to HPE, it takes a lot of time and engineering to deliver simplicity without compromising choice. We’ve been working towards this vision for 5 years and based on the numbers, that strategy is paying off. We’re excited about where we’re at today and excited to help customers accelerate their tomorrow.

Considering a move to all flash? Get the Flash Buyer’s Guide for a list of key questions to ask storage vendors. Short on time? View the infographic.

Protection is key. Get the 4 key strategies for flash-optimized data protection.

Learn more about HPE All-Flash, Software-Defined and Data Protection storage solutions.

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