Have the Mainstream Storage Vendors taken their eye off the ball?

Mainstream storage vendors have a potentially significant issue with their product strategy and the hybrid array new boys are now chipping away at their client base. Nimble Storage, specifically, appear to be benefiting at the expense of mainstream storage goliaths EMC and NetApp.

When the storage array mainstream vendors discovered flash technology they did one of several things. EMC shoved Solid state disks into their arrays. NetApp added flash cache to their arrays so that data access requests to hot data took less time. Neither of these strategies required a rewrite of the array’s underlying O/S.

The other strategy was to add a dedicated flash only arrays to their product portfolio. EMC bought XtremIO and added yet another new hardware and software stack its collection. NetApp flashed an Engenio drive array and used existing SANtricity software to power it, but is also developing its brand-new flash only array with new hardware and new software.

Nimble realised there was a significant hole in the market for a hybrid solution and are now reaping the rewards.

Nimble realised that customers would rather implement hybrid flash/disk drive systems than invest in costly all-flash arrays, using one solution for performance and another for bulk data, with new software and skills required to use both to best effect. EMC, NetApp and others tried to develop hybrid arrays by adding flash to their legacy disk drive array hardware and software but Nimble re-invented the hybrid array with new software.

The only technical way EMC, NetApp, Dell, HDS, HP and IBM, can compete with Nimble’s hybrid solution is by re-writing their incumbent array software, which, if they take the plunge, will surely take years to accomplish??