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June 20, 2016updated 22 Sep 2016 2:34pm

Flash wars: EMC, NetApp, HPE, Pure Storage & IBM push to make 2016 the year of all flash

List: As flash becomes more popular, the competition between vendors heats up.

By James Nunns

For some time flash arrays have threatened to become the standard choice for replacing existing storage hardware, but it has been hindered by concerns over cost and longevity.

These concerns have faded as costs have lowered and the resilience of flash arrays has been proven. Now, thanks to the rapid growth of data, and an increasingly strong desire from businesses to have fast access to the data they are producing, flash has come into vogue and there is a set of vendors taking advantage of this.

According to recently released figures from IDC the top five all flash market leaders are EMC, NetApp, Pure Storage, HPE, and IBM – in that order.

CBR looks at the state of the market and what the leaders are doing.

 

1. EMC

The company may be in the middle of being bought by Dell for $67bn but the company is still the clear market leader with 30.9% of the market and revenue standing at $245.6m. From Q1 2015 to Q1 2016 it saw 89% growth.

At the start of May EMC held its annual conference, EMC World, in Las Vegas. During the event the company unveiled the EMC Unity family of storage arrays.

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The company is aiming these products at medium sized IT deployments and will make them available in all flash, hybrid, converged, and software defined configurations.

Unity joins others products from the company, XtremIO, VMAX All Flash and DSSD D5. The company’s strategy is to offer flash into three market segments, entry, mid-range, and high-end products.

IDC

 

2. NetApp

NetApp isn’t a new player in the flash market, although it was slightly late to the game, but it has recently rocketed into second place position in the market.

The company saw a 238.2% revenue growth from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016, raking in $181.1m and grabbing hold of 22.8% of the market, according to IDC.

One of the boosts to NetApp’s flash storage business came through the acquisition of SolidFire for $870m.

The acquisition has helped the company to provide offerings across the three largest market segments, traditional enterprise infrastructure buyer, application owner, and the next-generation infrastructure buyer.

The company is aiming to provide a similar style infrastructure as the likes of Amazon Web Services, and Google.

NetApp

3. Pure Storage

Pure Storage came into the IDC figures as the third placed vendor with $139.9m revenues, a 15% share of the market and revenue growth of 96.7%.

The company’s last major release came with the introduction of FlashBlade, a cloud-scale all flash data platform.

The platform is an elastic scale-out system that offers all-flash performance in order to support multi-petabyte data sets.

Proposed use cases for the system include science and engineering, with the company saying that it can help support the large amounts of data that they need to do things like simulating airflow over an airplane wing.

The idea is to move past the restrictions posed by traditional compute cores.

FlashBlade combines commodity hardware components with software and what the company calls ultra-dense packaging in order to achieve high levels of performance.

Pure Storage

4. HPE

HPE comes in as the fourth placed company in the all-flash array market with $98.6m revenue, 12.4% market share and 68.2% revenue growth over the same period as the other companies in the list.

Like others in this list HPE is predicting the future of the all flash data centre and is offering several different arrays to appeal to different areas of the market.

The company’s 3PAR StoreServ family of arrays has an offering for small deployments with the StoreVirtual and MSA hybrid storage arrays and HPE XP Storage, a hybrid flash array for mission critical demands.

The XP7 is said to be aimed at applications requiring 100% data availability with no downtime, which it achieves by offering a 6.4TB Flash Module Drive.

At the company’s recent Discover conference it updated the flash-optimised data arrays with higher capacity components, persistent storage support for applications that are running in Docker containers, and enhanced the data protection and backup options.

The company said it will have support for the latest 7.68TB and 15.36TB Nand solid state drivers across the 3PAR StoreServ portfolio. These updates will be able to be configured in an up to 24PB’s of usable flash storage in a single system.

HPE 3PAR

5. IBM

IBM is now fifth placed in the market, according to IDC, with $67.4m in revenue, 8.5% of the market share and growth at 47%.

The company will be hoping that the release of three new all flash array products will help to boost the relatively sluggish growth rate, compared to the other market leaders.

The expansion of the portfolio came as the company looks to make it easier for customers to access data to use in apps.

FlashSystem A9000, FlashSystem A900R and the IBM DS8888 boast a minimum latency of 250is (microsecond), while the A9000 comes fully configured to help drive down cost for implementing an all-flash environment.

The system incorporates data reduction features such as pattern removal, deduplication, and real-time compression, as well as IBM FlashCore technology.

The A9000R includes the same features and it built on grid architecture, which the company says will provide easy scaling up to the petabyte range.

Both solutions start at $1.50 per gigabyte.

IBM Flash

 

 

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