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Monday, October 02, 2006

Array Vendor Chart

I've been trying to figure out how to map all these vendors onto a single chart. They can be rated on many criteria so it's hard to reduce them to a two-dimensional chart but, I'm going to try. I believe storage of the future will be based on technology that reliably stores and manages information on scaleable commodity HW much like the trend with rack servers today. So I created a two-dimensional chart that maps new innovation (at managing and storing information) vs. cost. New innovation is on the y-axis and higher is better. Cost is on the x-axis and lower is better. This chart will be an ongoing work-in-progress but, my first revision is shown below.

I've tried to show where the customer groups fall on these scales. For example, mission-critical enterprises are willing to pay for expensive products and service so falls far to the right. They have tough data management problems so need some innovation but are too risk averse to go for very new technology so they fall midway along the y-axis. SMB is to the left of that. They typically want basic block storage with common features but want to save money so don't buy the most expensive equipment. HPTC, in the upper left is leading the way in innovating technology for solving tough computing problems but typically have limited budgets so they are using the community development process to drive innovation through open-source software.

Placing the Vendors
Now, where to put the array companies? EMC is clearly the cost leader (loser?) so they go far to the right. In terms of innovation, I give them the benefit of the combined invention of all the companies they've acquired, but they basically stay within their block storage framework and stay away from bleeding-edge technology so they go in the middle. I put IBM higher on the innovation scale because I think they're on the right track with StorageTank. In the lower left are the simple integrators like StoneFly and Celeros. They basically integrate commodity hardware and software components. Not much innovation, but they provide it at a very low cost. Then, in the upper left is the innovation that I like. Software-based invention that leverages commodity arrays and motherboards. Panasas is doing this. I listed ClustreFS on here. They aren't an array vendor but they do the file system and add-ons to Linux that 30% of the Top-100 supercomputers use to create their storage grid. I haven't quite figured out where to put Netapp. They are driving a lot of important innovation but I need to check their prices to see where they fit on the price scale.

So here it is, rev 2 of my array vendor chart. with all it's errors and probably several missing storage vendors.