Gartner Storage MQ: An Analysis of the Analysis
I take my hat off to Gartner for creating their Magic Quadrants! A marketing and industry coup! Companies and organizations actually pay attention to it - both end users and vendors. Gartner's competitors have tried to create alternatives but to no avail. However, as Spider-Man's uncle Ben once said - "With great power comes great responsibility" - and this superduper analyst firm's analysis lacks rigor, intellect and insight worthy of its role in the industry.
The new Garter Storage MQ is based on the following proposition:
"Improvements in scalability, availability, performance and functionality of midrange storage systems have blurred the boundaries between network-attached, midrange and high-end storage systems."
I am not sure what this really means. Does it mean now that companies using the EMC VMAX or HDS VSP should take a look at Dell EqualLogic or NetApp FAS as viable 1-for-1 alternatives? And should these same customers consider using NFS or CIFS in place of FC or iSCSI since, as the above statement implies, NAS and SAN scalability, performance and functionality are pretty much the same? That is a big statement to make - NAS and SAN are interchangeable and fundamentally synonymous with one another. Perhaps that is not what Gartner is saying but it isn't very clear. And what about the reverse use case - should IT professionals seriously consider high-end storage systems to replace mid-range NAS or SAN storage solutions? Does the IBM DS8000 now compete with HP LeftHand or Nexsan NST?
Gartner also states that no extra credit is given to vendors that serve all market segments. Okay so market segments don't matter? So why are they talking about market segments in their analysis:
Dell Caution: "Lack of presence in the traditional high-end storage market and its relative lack of success in the fast-growing NAS and object storage market segments are limiting its appeal as a storage vendor."
So it would seem that you get no extra credit for serving all market segments but get penalized if you don't ("lack of presence in traditional high-end storage") or if you aren't particularly successful at it ("relative lack of success in the fast-growing NAS and object storage market segments").
Unless you are NetApp - "NetApp is focused on improving FAS and V Series' competitiveness in large mission-critical environments. Early signs are promising, but this is still a work in progress that requires ongoing improvements in marketing, sales, product features and professional services."
It seems that NetApp, in the second highest position on the MQ doesn't really need a high-end storage system but a solution that is on its way there in order to earn its top spot. It doesn't appear to matter that NetApp has been trying to compete in the high-end storage space for nearly a decade and has failed to do so - and yet it looks like they get points for saying they are almost able to. I am not trying to put down NetApp - they are a great company - but the Gartner analysis is contradictory.
It is also very curious that HP was the visionary leader in storage in 2011 and is fifth place in 2012. How do you rationalize such an extreme gap within 12 months? We may never know since Gartner doesn't feel the need to explain itself.
And the whole "niche player" thing is just incorrectly named. The vendors in this box aren't focused on a niche but the broad storage market. This has always been an issue with the MQ but we all just tralala along and ignore the fact that these vendors aren't niche players!
I could go on and on about the puzzling analysis that Gartner has put forth. But there is a single point in all of this: the Gartner Storage MQ premise is fundamentally flawed, subjective and inconsistent. It attempts to paint with a very broad brush things that require detailed analysis. Subjective analysis can be valid and useful but its arguments and rationale need to be able to stand up to rigorous scrutiny. This does not.
What is needed is an analysis based on the real world focusing on both traditional and emerging storage solutions that is segmented and with more detailed information. It is hard to imagine anyone - especially end user customers - getting any real value out of the Gartner Storage MQ.
Perhaps 1st base. Look forward to you're continued storage "net net"
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