Updated August 23! HP jumps into the mix. Bottom line - HP sells a ton of storage in both the midrange and high-end environments. But the EVA is old in the tooth and they OEM their high-end from HDS. It will be interesting to see where each of these big vendors draws the line in the sand.
Dell has been doing extremely well with EqualLogic. Here is what I speculate they have learned since the acquisition:
1. Selling storage isn't easy but there is a real stickiness factor. You don't just swap out storage systems. Once you have embraced a solution you will most likely continue working with it for years to come and buy more and more and more of it. That is, if it is a good/great solution. If it sucks - even then it isn't easy to replace. Have you ever performed a data migration?
2. There is a ton of money to be made in little spinning platters especially if you don't have to split the pie. Dell storage margins eclipse the other stuff they sell. Damn it feels good to own intellectual property.
3. Dell figured out if they acquired a storage company that is already healthy and has differentiated products then it can catapult it to the next level far faster than if the startup was to run on its own steam. They know how to make this model work. Rinse and repeat!
4. Storage customers want FC. Turns out - iSCSI isn't the end all and be all for everyone.
5. The storage market is segmented. Again, EqualLogic doesn't fit every environment and a high-end FC system is just what they need to fill out their portfolio. 3PAR can cover mid-tier to high-end FC opportunities. There really isn't much overlap between these two solutions from a market perspective.
Interestingly, EMC and IBM made 3PAR more viable with their scale-out solutions, V-Max and XIV. 3PAR preceded both solutions by many years and is an Enterprise-class scale-out storage system. It is far more mature, feature-rich and field proven than V-Max and XIV. However, since EMC and IBM have basically redefined the next generation of Enterprise-class storage and 3PAR is already ahead of the curve, it validates them as an architecture and a product. If EMC and IBM stuck to their monolithic approaches and convinced the market that true Enterprise-class could never run on commodity hardware or support a scale-out architecture, then arguably 3PAR would be less compelling.
However, one of the main hurdles with 3PAR, from a customer perspective, they were still a little guy relatively speaking. However, now that Dell owns them this will no longer be the case. They can now play with the big boys and leverage their best-in-class scale-out Enterprise storage system.
I have been a proponent of 3PAR for years. Great architecture. Great technology. Easy to use. Excellent storage optimization. Field proven. Customers love it. It is perfect? Of course not. Does it fit every environment? You know the answer. But Dell buying them is pretty damn close to a no-brainer as you can get in the storage market.
Okay - who do you think is going to buy Compellent?