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Loving IDC time—and letting the storage market facts speak for themselves

It’s IDC time. I love IDC time. No quadrants, no boxes, and no opinions. No subjective rankings, no “pay for play” and, most importantly, no bias.

That’s right folks. IDC time is about the straight numbers, the cold hard facts—and I love it. Unfortunately, not everyone is about the facts these days. A simple look at the U.S, presidential election this year tells you all you need to know about that. And now that IDC recently released its Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker, every vendor on the list is doing the work of combing through it, looking for any possible angle that they can spin into some kind of story that talks about how great their product is.

It’s entertaining but is it real? Personally I’m always fascinated by the relationship between product quality and revenue—or lack thereof. It’s fascinating because, generally speaking, most people don’t equate financial success with quality. We all know they’re not the same thing. I can point to many examples that highlight this: Fast food restaurant revenue obliterates fine dining but who would argue the quality of a great steak over a cheap hamburger? Sure maybe a particular song might be good but does that reflect onto the artist? How many artists have more than a handful of listenable songs?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying revenue isn’t important. I’m saying it’s not definitive. That’s why it’s always a good time when IDC releases these quarterly numbers for the data storage market. After all the scrutinizing and Excel jockeying to see which obscure reference will paint the picture they’re looking for, the stories start coming out. We’ll know which vendors did well and which ones are having a hard time with the numbers—they’ll be the quiet ones. You know what I think about all this?

Just the facts, please

Stories waste time. I like facts. I like it simple and straightforward. I like to deal in what’s real, tangible and right in front of my face. (OK, with some subjective analysis thrown in.) So let’s look at the facts and see what the IDC numbers are telling us:

1.   We’re still seeing growth in internal and external storage.

Starting with the facts: internal and external storage revenue is at the sixth consecutive quarter of y/y share gain in 2016Q2.External storage itself has now seen year-over-year revenue growth in 10 of the last 11 quarters.[1] HPE is effectively tied as the #1 overall storage vendor with a 17.6% share during 2Q16.[2] Now I’ll be the first one to agree that these great results do not automatically mean we’re making a higher quality product. But it does show that more and more customers are choosing HPE and it’s not for the marketing, or sales force or badge. I believe the reason is market quality.

2.   The all-flash market looks a lot like the mid-range market four years ago.

Four of the top five all-flash vendors are predominantly selling systems that all once held spinning disk.3 I think we can officially put the “built for flash” campaign to bed. “Engineered to address flash” won by a pretty wide margin. Enough said.

3.   Global Flash and mid-range storage growth is strong.

As of Q2, 2016, we see that the 3PAR all-flash array (AFA) offering is seemingly growing leaps and bounds — 87% year over year[4] worldwide. In fact outside of the US, 3PAR is growing 149% year over

[1] IDC Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker, September 16, 2016

[2] IDC Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker, September 16, 2016; IDC declares a statistical tie in the worldwide enterprise storage systems market when there is less than one percent difference in the revenue share of two or more vendors.

[3] Based on internal HPE research of the top 5 vendors in the IDC tracker.

[4] Figure represents revenue in 2Q16 according to IDC WW Disk Tracker.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.