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EMC predicts big decline in legacy SAN drive array sales

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March 12, 2015

According to EMC, it expects a sudden drop in legacy SAN drive array sales soon, with hyperconverged, software-defined and all-flash array storage growing to replace SANs in a way.

To be sure, William Blair analyst Jason Ader attended the March 10 EMC Strategic Forum Conference and mailed a few enterprise clients a summary of what he saw there.

EMC management quoted some IDC Research numbers, which suggested the $26 billion external storage systems market will grow at around 3 percent CAGR from 2015 to about 2018.

Within this period, “traditional stand-alone hybrid systems are expected to decline at a 13 percent compound annual growth rate”, while “new systems are expected to grow at about 22 percent compound annual rate. New systems converged at a 19 percent CAGR”.

As some have already pointed out, traditional stand-alone hybrid systems are VMAX and VNX arrays. Converged systems are the Vblocks from VCE.

New storage systems include examples from XtremIO, ScaleIO/ECS and DSSD. Hyperconverged systems (VSEX BLUE) and scale-out NAS (Isilon) will also grow.

EMC sees the market moving “toward converged and hyperconverged systems, all-flash arrays and purpose-built back-up appliances”.

Stifel Nicolaus MD Aaron Rakers, also at the event, differed on the decline rate, suggesting “EMC estimates that in the 2015 to 2018 period, the traditional hybrid (HDD-based architecture) storage systems will decline at a 5 percent CAGR.”

If EMC's opinion of traditional SAN storage array sales declining is correct, then it will affect every other vendor selling them, including Dell, Fujitsu, HDS, HP, IBM and NetApp, to name just a few.

Unless these vendors are represented in the growth categories of the market, their storage system sales will decline in lockstep with this trend.

Some are already showing declines in storage system sales, such as IBM and NetApp. Some have even noted EMC saying there would be a software-only version of the VNX due later this year.

Attendees at the event also heard that the DSSD product will involve a 5U enclosure being a “directly-attached API-based, PCIe-based storage shared appliance”.

Data will move from the device to server hosts across a PCIe shared fabric. Inside the enclosure there are 36 hot-swap proprietary flash modules, each containing 512 flash dice.

EMC buys in the raw NAND and flash controllers but uses its own firmware to get “10x the performance and 5 times the reliability of utilizing the same NAND Flash as others, given its firmware capabilities”.

EMC has more than 600 customers using Isilon arrays for analytics within a 5,800+ customer base. A software-only Isilon product is also due later in 2015.

Source: EMC.

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