The New Storage Players – blog by Camberley Bates

By Camberley Bates, Monday, April 20th 2015

Analyst Blogs

New Storage PlayersOver the last year we have seen a new type of storage player enter the Enterprise IT market. This group includes names that we’ve known as component players tucked inside the systems (think Intel inside), but are now entering the market as direct or indirect players in enterprise accounts.
What is happening? Why are we seeing Sandisk, Intel, HGST, Micron (to name a few) move from behind the wizard’s curtain to the forefront? While each company has its individual reasons, here are a few trends we see:

  1. The New Storage Players have been selling directly to the web-scale firms for quite some time. Google, Facebook, AWS have tapped directly into the component players. In an effort to take cost out and create highly scalable environments, they have cut out several layers of distribution / manufacturing and gone directly to the source.
  2. Encouraged by the success of dealing with the web-scalers, the New Storage Players have turned their attention to the larger cloud providers. Based on a similar situation, the Cloud Providers have been using as much free / open source / internally developed systems to take cost out and deliver scale. Thus the New Storage Players have begun to acquire other components to offer to this market, such as caching, object storage software, and solid state technologies. And they are building out with with senior executives from systems players.
  3. Enterprise IT is adding a new private cloud architecture environment to the traditional IT environment. IT has experimented with public cloud and many have found it a security risk or ultimately too expensive. Thus now the move is to build the private, agile cloud service in house. Will this private cloud be dominated by Open Source/Software Defined solutions on commodity storage hardware (aka New Storage Players)? It very well could be as there is the promise of lower cost and less vendor proprietary tie-in with the grow-your-own solution.

Thus, the New Storage Players are developing sales and marketing groups that will influence and sell directly to Enterprise IT.
For IT managers, there are some real positives. There are now more enterprise storage players in the market which will increase competition and innovation. The New Storage Players are not only developing products but are also in the market to purchase and integrate new technologies. For instance, SanDisk purchased FusionIO, Smart Storage, Pliant and FlashCache; HGST picked up Virident, Velobit, Skyera and Amplidata, and Seagate bought Xyratex, eVault and some of the former LSI products.
However, the New Storage Players will need to increase their understanding of Enterprise IT operations in order to develop highly compelling products that can compete with the systems vendors. And they will need to collaborate with the systems players to drive relevancy in the minds of enterprise buyers. Here to fore they have relied mostly on the systems players to thoroughly understand end user requirements and to direct product development.  Thus we have seen a ramp up of staff that have built and sold systems, such as Micron’s Rob Peglar and some of the Fusion-IO team at Sandisk.

Net result: we will have new enterprise storage players, more competition and hopefully some really cool products to address the changing IT landscape.

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