Disk Array Buying Guide: Challengers and Visionaries

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In an earlier disk array buying guide, we covered those companies named as the leaders by Gartner in its Magic Quadrant (MQ) for General Purpose Disk Arrays (EMC, HP, NetApp, HDS, IBM and Dell).  This time, we cover those named by Gartner as the Challengers and Visionaries. As it’s quite a list, we can’t give vast real estate to each of them, but here is a summary.


Gartner listed DataDirect Networks (DDN), Fujitsu, Huawei and Oracle in the Challengers category.

For inclusion in the report, Gartner evaluated the DDN SFA12K and SFA12KX , which are widely used in High Performance Computing (HPC), genomics, manufacturing, entertainment and video surveillance.

“A challenger is a vendor that participates in the broad general-purpose disk array market and executes well enough to be a serious threat to vendors in the Leaders quadrant. They have strong products, as well as sufficient credible market position and resources to sustain continued growth. Financial viability is not an issue for vendors in the Challengers quadrant, but they lack the size and influence of vendors in the Leaders quadrant.”

For inclusion in the report, Gartner evaluated DDN SFA12K and SFA12KX high performance storage. DDN’s SFA12K family is said to provide high IOPS and bandwidth performance with good capacity management while the SFA12KX is more aimed at containing rampant data growth.

“DDN’s can uniquely meet customer demand for high performance storage solutions for analytics, scale within the data center and across geographies,” said Molly Rector, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President Product Management at DDN.

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The Gartner Quadrant

The second of our Challengers to be featured is Fujitsu. Its Eternus CD10000 is said to be a hyperscale storage system integrating open-source Ceph software to provide unlimited and cost-efficient modular scalability of storage capacity and performance at zero downtime. This array is delivered and is maintained by Fujitsu with the goal of enabling IT organizations to benefit from open standards without risk.

“Our hyperscale system provides object, block, and file storage up to more than 50 PetaBytes of data,” said Toshinori Kataoka, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Storage at Fujitsu. “With its new OpenStack integration, the Eternus CD10000 is the perfect solution for enterprises struggling with the headache of ever-growing volumes of data.”

Pricing varies per configuration, and systems are specified to order. Key markets for the Eternus CD10000 are storage for OpenStack users, service providers for cloud, IT and telecommunication as well as broadcast media companies. It is also targeted at financial and public institutions with mushrooming document repositories, large scale business analytics/big data applications, and organizations which handle huge quantities of multimedia data.


The four Visionaries listed in the MQ by Gartner are Tintri, Tegile, Nimble Storage and X-IO Technologies. Tegile, for example, claims its products are used by enterprises in almost every vertical, to drive virtual server consolidation, virtual desktop deployment and database acceleration.

“Tegile offers an extensive line of hybrid storage solutions as part of the Intelligent Flash Array portfolio,” said Rob Commins, Vice President of Marketing, Tegile Systems. “Tegile hybrid arrays leverage the performance of flash, the density of hard disks and the features of the IntelliFlash operating system to deliver a storage platform that accelerates enterprise workloads.”

Nimble storage, meanwhile, launched its Adaptive Flash platform, comprising its CASL file system and InfoSight cloud-based management. This includes the CS700 high end array for the most demanding enterprise workloads and Fibre Channel support.

Radhika Krishnan, Vice President of Product Marketing and Alliances, Nimble Storage, believes that arrays from traditional arrays offer a “bolt on” approach of adding flash to disk to gain performance. This, he said, limits flexibility.  But on the other side of the coin, the newer all-flash vendors offer performance without the ability to add cost effective disk capacity.

“Nimble’s Adaptive Flash Platform offers one platform to run all workloads, dialing up or down the amount of flash or disk as needed,” said Krishnan. “Our InfoSight analytics platform simplifies storage management while ensuring peak health of storage infrastructure by identifying problems and providing guidance on deploying the right amount of flash or disk to satisfy the changing SLA needs of business-critical applications.”

Others and Niche Players

Gartner also lists a group of niche players, though some of those have a valid case for being represented in a more high profile light. Among them are many good arrays, worth checking out on their websites.

But there are still others who didn’t even make it onto the MQ for one reason or another. Greg Schulz, an analyst at StorageIO Group, was amazed at some of the omissions.

“Where are the likes of Imation/Nexsan, NEC, Nexgen, Nimbus, Rourke, SGI, Cray and Seagate,” said Schulz. “And if you include Tintri then you should also be adding Simplivity, Nutanix, Maxta, Synology,
Lenovo/Iomega, Exasan and some others”

But to paraphrase the immortal words of Scottish poet Robert Burns: The best laid plans of mice and Gartner analysts often go astray.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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