While the SDS and HCI battles rage – the other furious infrastructure battleground is the all-flash transition in the external storage market (in SDS and HCI which are newer categories, there’s not “historical base”).
Like HCI – there’s a lot of chest beating (including us). In this case, you have a shrinking massive OVERALL external “SAN” storage market ($60B+)… that has a hot spot of growth – the all-flash SAN market – an oasis when the rest of the lake (the market) is evaporating. That dynamic means it’s going to be fiercely contested.
Sidebar: the traditional external NAS market is shrinking, but the scale-out NAS – including all-flash scale-out NAS market is booming. In that market – we are determined to continue to extend our lead (hint hint here). LIkewise, the other storage market that is booming is the object storage geo-dispersed/geo-replicated market – and ECS is doing great in that market (also highly contested). If any startup thinks we won’t furiously innovate and compete in these areas, they are as high as a kite.
In the AFA category, there are a lot of startups. There are giants. The startups paint a picture of the giants as “legacy” (as they would of course), and the giants as the startups being “irrelevant” (as they would of course).
Let there be no doubt. EMC is #1 in All-Flash.
Way back in 2008 we started this transition, we disrupted ourselves with the XtremIO acquisition in 2012. In 2016, we called it (for ourselves, for our customers, for the market as a whole) – 2016 is the year of all flash.
This is a clarion call – for transactional workloads, the place for hybrids has shrunk to the point of irrelevance (is it there, yeah… is it declining, yeah).
I want to make this post include a peak into culture and leadership, not just a celebration of customer and market success. EMC absolutely WAS undergoing the “Innovators’ Dilemma” where your leadership means that internal forces conspire – not out of maliciousness – to defend the things that got you to your current successful position. This is one of the points where high-tech companies adapt or die, and this is not easy. We’ve collectively navigated it several times, VMware is navigating it – every successful thing (people and companies) need to navigate it many times over their life. And when you don’t, you are diminished – sometimes to the point of irrelevance.
So – what do you do? You burn the boats.
This is of course a reference to the historical turning point when Cortes scuttled his fleet in response to mutineers second-guessing the direction. It’s a bit ironic that the expression is wrong – they were scuttled, not burned, but the effect is the same (to say nothing about the value-judgement of whether the Conquistadors were a positive or negative moment in history)
When we pivoted our R&D on VMAX towards VMAX all-flash, we were “burning the boats.”
When we shifted our R&D on Unity we were “burning the boats.”
When we committed our supply chain to lean on the NAND/NVMe/SSD supply chain to make sure we accelerated adoption and accelerated the price curves, we were “burning the boats”
When we doubled down on XtremIO, we were “burning the boats”. XtremIO has been so successful that our competitors have resorted to spreading rumors that we would end-of-life it. Ummm – let’s see. Should we End-of-life the most successful product in the fastest growing revenue category where we are the leader? That makes perfect sense… only if you’re a competitor :-)
Perhaps most of all (because this is disrupting a business model, much harder than simple technology disruption), when we made the Xpect More program universal, we were “burning the boats”. The Xpect More program is simple – for all our all-flash arrays:
- Price that constant and predictable – no maintenance or support costs that increase over time, from purchase to end-of-service. Period.
- Investment Protection – 3 year money-back warranty. If you aren’t delighted with your EMC AFA, your back is covered – we are confident. Period.
- Flash Service and Support – we warranty the flash, and monitor it proactively – we will always proactively replace before media failure, so you never need to worry about NAND wear. Period.
All of this is still contested (you can imagine the internal fierce arguments) – but… the boats are burnt – no going back.
Like always – you simply CANNOT cover the customers, the workloads with a single product, a single stack. This has proven true time and again – and the move from rust on platters to NAND doesn’t change that – in spite of what anyone says. Point products are good for point customers or point workloads – but to win in the marketplace as a whole you need a portfolio.
XtremIO is the “clean sheet” AFA. VMAX is the enterprise data services AFA. Unity is the “starts really small” AFA. DSSD is the “most direct path to NAND on the planet” rack-scale flash.
But, why the headline? Well – Gartner updated their MQ – and here are the results (clink on it for the reprint that can be distributed):
Likewise, IDC published their Q1 data – back in June, and it’s in black and white – EMC is the revenue, market leader.
… and both Gartner and IDC studies were before we introduced the all-flash VMAX and all-flash Unity, and before we GAed DSSD – so both of the studies are in effect a measure of where we are with XtremIO alone. I’m looking forward to seeing how things look going forward when our full portfolio is in effect.
Look – we have strong competitors, and I relish the competition – we each force each other to be the best we can be, and that makes the industry better. There’s a constant give and take, and ebb and flow, and everyone learns from everyone. The battle for the customer is the crucible that forges the strongest offers.
We will of course vigorously disrupt ourselves and in doing so, defend our market leadership position (in the marketplace which is the most important way – but also when it comes to IP).
To all the customers : THANK YOU. Thank you for investing in us, trusting us, challenging us. To all the competitors: THANK YOU. Thank you for forcing us to be our best and never resting on our laurels. It’s a shame we must destroy you :-) (kidding!!!)