Competitive Landscape: Primary Storage Systems for VMware


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This report presents the current state of the major storage system platforms in terms of their support for VMware and discusses relevant future trends.

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Competitive Landscape: Primary Storage Systems for VMware

  1. 1. Market Analysis and Statistics G00230718 13 April 2012 Competitive Landscape: Primary Storage Systems for VMware Pushan Rinnen, Roger W. Cox, Dave Russell This report presents the current state of the major storage system platforms in terms of their support for VMware and discusses relevant future trends. Key Findings ■ The majority of the top seven storage vendors have done a decent job in implementing VMware vCenter plug-ins and vSphere Storage API support, although some are doing a better job than others. ■ Aside from vCenter plug-ins, the most popular storage-array-based features in the VMware environment include remote replication, space-efficient cloning, automated tiering within an array, solid-state drive (SSD) implementation, and multipathing support for vSphere. ■ Vendors unique value propositions for their storage platforms support of VMware are often the same as their innate design strengths for all primary applications. ■ VMwares native storage enhancements may commoditize storage for small VMware deployments. ■ Although VMware will continue to add and enhance native storage functions for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), it will likely offload many storage functions to external storage arrays to increase virtual machine (VM) density and boost performance in large environments, while seeking to retain the management and control of many of these functions. Recommendations Companies selling external storage arrays into the VMware environment should: ■ Continue offering timely integration with vSphere storage APIs to stay competitive and maintain customer loyalty ■ Continue to innovate to boost their storage performance, efficiency, and ease of management for both storage administrators and vCenter administrators ■ Evaluate the benefits of adding enhanced backup/recovery functions to their basic snapshot and replication features, such as adding automated snapshot management, application integration and centralized reporting1-1ADQNZN
  2. 2. Analysis Competitive Situation and Trends Gartner conducted a short vendor survey among major storage vendors to evaluate different aspects of VMware support from their main storage platforms. We asked about their most popular storage features being used for VMware virtual servers and hosted virtual desktops. We also asked about their storage integration with VMware vStorage APIs, such as vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) and vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA). Popular Storage Array Features for VMware All vendors cited the foundation and architectural strengths and distinctions of their storage platforms as the popular array features for VMware. In aggregate, however, we see the following features showing up most frequently in our survey responses: ■ vCenter plug-ins for storage — These plug-ins for VMware, offered by many storage platforms, allow vCenter administrators to gain more insight into the storage deployment associated with the VMs, such as an end-to- end view of mappings from VMs to data stores to LUNs. They empower vCenter administrators to provision storage to VMs, set up remote replication for VMwares Site Recovery Manager (SRM), and perform additional trouble-shooting capabilities. ■ Remote replication supporting VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) — As VMware didnt support native replication prior to the vSphere 5.0 launch in 2011, its SRM relies on array-based replication engines to move data across systems or sites for high availability and disaster recovery purposes. ■ Space-efficient cloning — This feature is instrumental in saving storage capacities and increasing speed of provisioning VMs from days to minutes, especially for test/development and hosted virtual desktop environments, such as VMware View. ■ Automated tiering within an array — All vendors offering automated tiering with their arrays mentioned this feature as one of the popular features in VMware environments. This feature allows data to be stored on the appropriate storage tiers based on their workload requirements and the cost and performance characteristics of the tier. ■ SSD implementations — This feature is often cited to boost storage input/output (I/O) performance and solve virtual desktop boot storm issues while reducing disk spindle counts. Its also an essential element for automated tiering. ■ Multipathing support for vSphere — This feature automates the configuration of multiple redundant network connections to storage arrays to enable fault-tolerant network load balancing and helps improve storage performance and scalability. Many vendors talked about their integration with vStorage API for Multipathing and vStorage API for SRM. Moreover, vendors often highlight their storage systems innate or unique value propositions as popular features for VMware. For example:2
  3. 3. ■ Dell highlighted EqualLogics Automated Data Tiering and Compellents Data Progression as among the most popular features for VMware users.■ EMC included FAST VP for VMAX and VNX and VNXs single-instance store and compression.■ HP highlighted 3PARs wide striping and Mesh Active Clustering and LeftHands Network RAID and Peer Motion.■ Hitachi Data Systems talked about its Dynamic Provisioning and Dynamic Tiering technologies in parallel with its Storage Virtualization capabilities.■ IBM highlighted XIVs automatic load balancing and aggregated cache and Storwize V7000s Easy Tier.■ NetApp mentioned primary storage deduplication, MultiStore and Data Motion.■ Oracle discussed Axioms QoS and ZFS Appliances D-Trace.VAAI SupportTo create tighter integration with storage arrays and optimize performance for ESX hosts, VMware has beenworking with the industry-leading storage system vendors to develop a set of vSphere Storage APIs called VAAI,introduced in vSphere 4.1 and 5.0. VAAI offloads several storage-related functions from ESX hosts to storagearrays; it boosts host performance and increases the possibility of adding more VMs on the same host.While vSphere 4.1 VAAI is mostly applicable to storage area network (SAN) arrays, vSphere 5.0 extended tonetwork-attached storage (NAS) systems some of those I/O offloads that apply to Network File System (NFS)data stores. vSphere 5.0 also introduced a couple of new primitives. The major VAAI primitives from vSphere 4.1and 5.0 are as follows:■ Full copy — The task of copying a VM can now be done by VAAI-compliant arrays with drastically reduced host I/Os, increasing performance (such as with Storage vMotion and template deployment).■ Hardware-assisted locking — This task, when done by the SAN array, can offer more-granular block-level (vs. volume-level) locking and provides the possibility to increase the size of the data store and the number of VMs within a data store without worrying about performance issues. This doesnt apply to NFS data stores as they already have the granularity.■ Block zeroing — With this feature, the vSphere host can avoid sending repetitive commands to the SAN array about writing zeros for faster VM creation and formatting and improved storage capacity utilization. HP claims that its 3PAR is the only product in the industry that has zero detection built in its application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC).■ Out-of-space alerts and space reclamation for thin-provisioned storage — Available from vSphere 5.0, when used together with VAAI-compliant SAN arrays, this primitive adds a new advanced warning about the out- of-space condition and also informs the array about the freed-up space so that the array can reclaim it. This primitive doesnt apply to NFS data stores, as NFS correctly reports free space.■ Linked clones — vSphere 5.0 added a VAAI primitive to replace vSpheres linked clone function with NAS- based cloning for VMware View and vCloud Director. 3
  4. 4. Most of the major storage vendors and platforms have done a good job with timely support of the VAAI primitives, with some (such as IBM and Dell Compellent) still working on the out-of-space alert primitive. For the linked clone offload to NAS, its only supported by NetApp and EMCs VNX. EMC VNX/VNXe and NetApps FAS series stand out with both SAN and NAS protocol support. Oracle is the only vendor that doesnt offer VAAI support with its Pillar Axiom and ZFS Storage Appliance. VASA Support To help vCenter administrators to better coordinate server-storage decisions, vSphere 5.0 introduced a new set of APIs called VASA to gain more information on storage arrays. VASA-compliant storage arrays allow vCenter administrators to be more productive in deploying VMs and make more storage-intelligent decisions about VM placements. VASA allows array vendors to expose to vCenter their storage configurations, functions and characteristics. This information will allow vCenter to make automated, policy-driven storage management or profile-driven recommendations (such as for Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler). Array vendors must create a provider plug-in to enable VASA reporting, and its up to the array vendors to decide which features or characteristics to expose to vCenter. The aggregate survey results show that the following storage features are most commonly exposed to the vCenter via VASA: ■ Drive type — What type of hard-disk drives the storage array contains, such as high-performance drives or large-capacity drives. ■ Redundant array of independent disks (RAID) protection — Whether the array has RAID protection or not; few specify RAID levels. ■ Logical unit number (LUN)/volume replication — Whether a LUN or volume is replicated or not; a few show replication configuration and state. With HPs 3PAR, LeftHand and EVA storage arrays, they also expose to vCenter whether storage is thin- provisioned or not. EMCs VMAX/VMAXe tells vCenter administrators whether multitiered storage is used or not. Gartner believes that portfolio vendors that sell both servers and storage will be more open to expose their storage functions to vCenter, whereas storage-centric vendors (with the exception of EMC, which owns the majority of VMware) will be less open in order to protect their storage control. Market Players While almost all storage vendors claim that their storage arrays support VMware well, we chose to focus on the most widely deployed storage platforms from major storage vendors around the globe, namely: ■ Dell — EqualLogic and Compellent ■ EMC — Symmetrix, VNX and Isilon4
  5. 5. ■ HP — 3PAR, LeftHand and EVA■ Hitachi Data Systems — USPV/VSP, AMS and HNAS■ IBM — DS8000, XIV, Storwize 7000 and DS5000■ NetApp — FAS Series■ Oracle — Pillar Axiom and Sun ZFS Storage ApplianceThe vast majority of the storage platforms on the list report that over 50% of their respective customers use thatplatform to support VMware virtual server environments, with the exception of EMC Isilon, Hitachi Data SystemsHNAS, IBM DS8000 and Oracle Sun ZFS Storage Appliance. The results are not surprising, because Isilon, HNASand ZFS Storage Appliance were developed mainly as NAS systems for file services. Isilons and HNASsVMware support initiatives were fairly recent — just before their acquisitions by EMC and Hitachi Data Systems,respectively. Oracle has been focusing on integrating the ZFS Storage appliance with Oracle Databaseapplications, most of which are not run in the VMware environment. IBMs DS8000 is commonly used in themainframe and high-end Unix server environments, which has very low penetration by VMware.As hosted-virtual-desktop deployments are still not a mainstream in the market today, all storage vendorssurveyed estimated low storage usage for VMware View, ranging from 3% to 15% of their storage customers. Webelieve 3% to 5% is a more realistic range and that 15% is likely higher than reality and maybe the result ofmisinterpretation of the survey question.The Future of CompetitionLooking at the future competition in terms of storage capabilities for VMware virtual environments, Gartnerbelieves that such competition will not only continue among external storage array vendors, but will also arisebetween what VMware offers natively from the host side and what the arrays offer from the storage side. Anothercompetitive factor is the integrated VMware solutions, such as EMCs Virtual Computing Environment (VCE)Vblock, HPs VirtualSystem and NetApps FlexPod.VMware Storage InitiativesIn the past two years, VMware has started adding more storage capabilities natively on its platform, such as SiteRecovery Manager, Storage vMotion, Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), vSphere Replication,vSphere Profile-Driven Storage, VMware Data Recovery, and vSphere Storage Appliance. For the new storagefeatures offered by vSphere 5.0, see Gartner report "New Storage Initiatives From VMwares vSphere 5.0 andWhy They Matter."While many of these storage feature functions are complementary with storage arrays, they do require storagearrays to support VMware storage APIs for seamless integration. In the end, its all about control. The morestorage features exposed to the vCenter, the more they will empower vCenter administrators to manage storagetogether with servers. Storage vendors that want to appeal to broader user profiles should not be conservativeabout exposing their storage features to the vCenter. This applies especially to vendors and products targetingSMBs, which tend not to have a dedicated storage team. 5
  6. 6. Other VMware storage features, such as vSphere Replication and vSphere Storage Appliance, are in direct competition with storage arrays, although the competition is still new and weak. However, one Gartner user survey on virtualization in 2011 showed an increasing interest in adopting native features from server virtualization vendors, indicating that users are more open-minded when deploying a new virtualized environment. Integrated VMware Solutions Converged technology infrastructures where vendors are tightly integrating servers, networking and storage technologies with management software and VMware represent an alternative to buying what users may consider to be discrete best-of-breed technology. Optimized for utilization and cost efficiencies, converged technology infrastructure solutions hold the promise of resolving management complexity and lowering the risk interoperability issues, as well as simplifying service and support problem resolution. Notable examples of this approach include Dells vStart, HPs VirtualSystem, NetApps FlexPod and VCEs Vblock. Dells vStart Virtual Infrastructure is a preconfigured, tested and validated solution that is optimized to support VMware environments. There are three vStart models — vStart 50, vStart 100 and vStart 200 — that scale out as customer VM needs grow. The external controller-based (ECB) disk storage system that is part of these vStart models is the EqualLogic SAN storage system, which supports the VAAI and VASA. As part of the vStart solution, Dell has integrated the EqualLogic Host Integration storage tools and Dell Server Management Plug-in into vCenter. The HP VirtualSystem portfolio includes three offerings that are individually sized to support a specific number of VMware VMs, ranging from 750 VMs to 6,000 VMs. Fully integrated with vSphere 5.0, the converged configurations include from 28 to 128 vSphere licenses and Insight Control Storage Module for vCenter 6.3. The ECB disk storage systems that are part of the HP VirtualSystem include the P4000 LeftHand SAN arrays and the 3PAR F and V series, both of which support VAAI and VASA. Based on a partnership between NetApp, Cisco and VMware, the VMware vSphere built on FlexPod includes Ciscos Unified Computing System (UCS), Ciscos Nexus switches, NetApps FAS3200/6200 unified storage systems, and VMware vSphere 5.0 virtualization software in a single integrated package. Various VMware vSphere built on FlexPod configurations are available, which can scale performance and capacity up and out to meet needs that range from the midrange to the enterprise. Featuring core functionality features such as deduplication, FlexClone, SnapShot and SnapManager, all NetApp FAS series platforms support VAAI and VASA. Management tools include Ciscos UCS Manager and NetApps OnCommand Management Suite, both of which are tightly integrated with VMwares vCenter 5.0. While support is coordinated, users are required to execute a validated support contract with each vendor. VCE, formed by Cisco and EMC with minority investments by VMware and Intel, was an early entrant as a provider of converged technology infrastructures to support VMware environments. Its Vblock integrated infrastructure platform portfolio, composed of Ciscos Unified Computing System (UCS), and Nexus and MDS switches, EMC VNX and VMAX disk storage systems, and VMware vSphere 5.0 virtualization software, can scale to handle the requirements of midsize to very large VMware deployments. Emphasizing their core functionality, such as FAST VP and hardware accelerated Fast Clones, the EMC VNX and VMAX ECB disk storage systems6
  7. 7. support VAAI and VASA. Management tools include EMCs Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI), Unisphere, ProSphereand Ionix Data Center Insight, and Ciscos UCS Manager, all tightly integrated with VMware vCenter 5.0.Future Competitive FocusesNo matter what kind of storage infrastructure for VMware is developed, users are most likely to choose theirVMware storage infrastructure based on the following areas:■ Performance■ Storage efficiency■ Ease of management■ Backup/recoveryPerformanceStorage performance will be a hotly contended area among various vendors. As storage benchmark results aretypically based on heavily tuned, specially configured hardware and software features, its difficult to find apples-to-apples comparisons. However, its generally true that when storage arrays take over storage-related functionsfrom the host, the host can increase the VM density by dedicating more resources to applications. Storage arrayvendors should develop user case studies to demonstrate real-world deployments in terms of VM density. Asidefrom helping increase host performance by offloading storage functions, storage vendors are expected tocontinue investing in storage designs involving solid state drives and scalable file systems for the moredemanding environment. They should also provide clear best-practice papers for users to understand theperformance impact of various features and configurations.Storage EfficiencyStorage efficiency is an area where external storage arrays are likely to continue to shine. Storage array vendorshave developed for years various storage efficiency algorithms running on their controllers, such as thinprovisioning, deduplication, compression, and space-efficient snapshots and cloning. Such knowledge andtechniques are not easily transferrable to the host operating environment or may consume too many hostresources. Therefore, besides performance, storage efficiency is another key area of investment for array vendorsin order to continue their unique value propositions.Ease of ManagementEase of management goes beyond an intuitive graphical user interface. Its more about integration with theVMware framework to make the job easier for different administrators who manage storage. And its aboutautomating repetitive or inefficient operational processes, such as enabling vSphere Profile-Driven Storage.One major problem of managing storage in the VMware environment is the misalignment of the granularity levelbetween the vSphere side and the storage side, which makes it impossible to assign different policies at the VMor application level. VMware revealed at the VMworld in October 2011 that it is working with key storage array 7
  8. 8. partners such as Dell, EMC, HP, IBM and NetApp to develop a new storage model. This new model promises to support VM-level granularity policy setup and simplify management. Backup/Recovery While VM density continues to rise on hypervisors, backup/recovery remains a major challenge for many organizations, as the physical server has limited physical resources (CPU cycles, memory and I/O bandwidth) to be shared by all of the VMs. As a result, Gartner is seeing an increased adoption of snapshots and replication to augment, or even replace traditional backup processes. For large VMware environments, its most common to see users using array-based snapshots and replication, as storage arrays can handle a large volume of data and offload the data collection process from the vSphere server, which can then dedicate more resources to servicing production applications. However, array-based snapshots that are not used in conjunction with additional management modules often lack some of the basic features that are taken for granted in a backup application, such as application integration, centralized reporting and an integrated catalog for easy search of the individual items and for data versioning. Therefore, Gartner believes that storage array vendors should continue to enhance their snapshot and replication solutions in the following areas: ■ Application consistency for VM backups ■ Automated discovery of new VMs via continued vSphere API support ■ An updated understanding of the current VM locations via continued vSphere API support, as VMs are mobile and can move from server to server ■ A catalog-based backup solution thats integrated with its arrays snapshot and replication technologies and can support VM configurations Array vendors should also pay close attention to what VMware is doing with backup/recovery and disaster recovery, as many users prefer using VMware native tools because of tighter integration, lower cost and heterogeneous hardware support. VMware in 2011 introduced its native software-based replication tool with vSphere 5.0 Site Recovery Manager, which will likely cannibalize some array-based solutions, especially for SMBs. If VMware or OS vendors such as Microsoft start offering improved and more scalable backup/recovery solutions, it could change the market dynamics. They could become disruptive, in that the buying center is changed from the storage team to the server organization — something already happening for VM protection, and in fact, through bundling, could essentially make backup appear to be free of charge. Competitive Profiles Competitive profiles provide a way to compare the major storage platform providers. This report focuses on the top seven storage system vendors because they represent the mainstream market trends; small storage system vendors can learn from their "big brothers" and benefit from the overall trends.8
  9. 9. DellCompany/Product OverviewInvesting in R&D and M&A to accelerate growth and span of reach, Dell is on a journey to transition from a pureproduct sale organization that largely resold other vendors products to becoming a company that providesintegrated solutions based on its intellectual property (IP). Recognizing the importance of storage as part of itsemerging IT solution portfolio, Dell has expanded its ECB disk storage IP portfolio through acquisition.Complementing the market-leading iSCSI entry-level EqualLogic external disk storage system, the February 2011acquisition of Compellent provides a competitive midrange-to-high-end modular ECB disk storage system withadvanced data management service software replacing the Dell:EMC co-branded systems previously sourcedfrom EMC.Dell is the sixth-largest ECB disk storage system vendor in the world. The Dell EqualLogic and Dell Compellentare the main primary storage platforms for VMware. In 2011, Gartner estimates that Compellent revenue grew144% year over year, accounting for 27% of the combined EqualLogic and Compellent revenue. Both theEqualLogic and Compellent platforms support VAAI primitives; however, only the Dell EqualLogic supports VASA.Dell reports that VASA support for Dell Compellent is scheduled for availability in mid-2012.Product Marketing StrategyStressing ease of use, performance, and technological features, Dell positions its ECB disk storage platforms asbest-in-class offerings. For example, Dell markets EqualLogic storage as a "versatile and uncomplicated"platform with all-inclusive software pricing and more-advanced VMware integration; it markets Compellentstorage as "self-optimized and powerful" platform with more-advanced storage tiering. While EqualLogic targetsIT generalists, Compellent targets organizations with dedicated storage administrators.As Dell has broadened its IT portfolio through an aggressive acquisition program beyond clients and servers, it isincreasingly adopting an "end-to-end" marketing strategy that emphasizes superior value via a convergedinfrastructure composed of Dell server, networking, storage and management technology in partnership withleading independent software vendors (ISVs), such as VMware.How Dell CompetesGenerally, Dell prefers to sell an integrated IT solution in which the ECB disk storage products are packaged withserver and networking sales. But, considering that a rather large base of Dell server customers has the Dell:EMCco-branded CLARiiON CX and AX series (previously sourced from EMC) installed, Dell is actively pursuing acompetitive replacement program offering either the Dell Compellent or Dell EqualLogic storage systems asappropriate.As a volume reseller of VMware software, Dell emphasizes the overall interoperability integration with its ECB diskstorage solutions and VMware vSphere software. Dell, with its EqualLogic product line, is one of the few storagevendors that have been working closely from the beginning with VMware to define vSphere storage APIs and aretherefore an early adopter of the APIs. 9
  10. 10. EMC Company/Product Overview The largest external storage array vendor in the world, EMC offers three primary storage platforms that can support VMware virtual environments. They are Symmetrix VMAX/VMAXe, VNX/VNXe and Isilon. The VMAX/ VMAXe product line continues to be EMCs flagship product for the high-end enterprise and consolidated data centers; its revenue constitutes over 50% of the three platforms combined revenue in 2011 and grew 11.5% year over year, based on Gartners estimates. EMCs midrange modular storage is represented by its unified VNX/VNXe product family, introduced in the first quarter of 2011. It has been replacing the two separate CLARiiON and Celerra product lines. The combined hardware revenue for VNX/VNXe, CLARiiON and Celerra grew 20.6% in 2011 year over year, according to Gartners market share statistics. EMCs Isilon platform grew revenue in triple digits in 2011, but this platform has limited adoption for VMware support, as its key strength lies with managing a large amount of unstructured data. Both Symmetrix and VNX platforms fully support VAAI and VASA. Product Marketing Strategy Although EMC owns the majority of VMware, it has allowed VMware to function independently in terms of support for heterogeneous storage systems. Nevertheless, the majority ownership can project a biased image of tighter integration between VMware and EMCs storage offerings in users minds. Aware of that potential bias, EMCs marketing tends to stay away from the ownership fact and focus on its storage platforms value propositions, such as FAST VP. VMAX is targeting data centers with the most comprehensive consolidation in mind, such as consolidating both physical and virtual server storage and consolidating both open-system and mainframe storage. Its also positioned for the environment with the most demanding storage performance requirements. VMAXe is a light version of VMAX and doesnt support mainframe. VNX/VNXe offers customers the additional choice of NFS data stores for fast, efficient VM-level cloning, whereas Isilon offers a highly scalable NFS data store with easy management. How EMC Competes EMC has the largest direct storage sales force among all storage vendors. With VNXe, it also grew its channel partners tremendously. For VMware environments, EMC highlights the fact that it has a single vCenter plug-in, called Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI), for both its VMAX and VNX families. VSI can automatically discover VMAX or VNX arrays and populate the basic information vCenter needs and allow vCenter administrators to provision and manage SAN/NAS storage, such as replicating a writable snapshot of a data store or a VM. VSI also simplify the manual process of VMware SRM fail-back. Other EMC and VMware integration for EMCs primary storage includes its ProSphere and Ionix Data Center Insight, which offer mapping information from VMs down to disk drives, service dependencies among different elements, and compliance reporting.10
  11. 11. HPCompany/Product OverviewHP is a leading global IT and infrastructure supplier for consumers, SMBs and large enterprises. It is the fourth-largest external storage array vendor in the world. Although it offers four primary storage platform families for theVMware environment (P4000 LeftHand, P6000/EVA, 3PAR and P9000), its marketing and sales focus is on 3PARand LeftHand. Gartner estimates 3PARs hardware revenue growth in 4Q11 was 157.2% over 4Q10 whileLeftHands year-over-year hardware revenue growth in 2011 is estimated at 22%. Both platforms supportVMware VAAI primitives, VASA, application-consistent VMware-aware snapshots, SRM, vCenter managementplug-ins and Pluggable Storage Architecture.Product Marketing StrategyHP focuses most of its product marketing for VMware on 3PAR and LeftHand platforms. HP targets differentVMware user markets with these two storage families. The LeftHand P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance and theLeftHand P4300 target the SMBs and branch offices that dont have a SAN infrastructure or are planning to havea starter SAN. The company targets midmarket VMware users mainly with the 3PAR F-Class and LeftHandP4500. For heavy VMware users in the high-end enterprise arena, HP promotes 3PARs T-Class and V-Classseries as "next-generation, federated Tier 1 storage" for agility and efficiency. For VMware VDI deployments, HPpromotes the LeftHand and 3PAR, with the P4800 SAN for BladeSystem being the storage in the HP ClientVirtualization integrated system due to its tight integration within the BladeSystem architecture.How HP CompetesHP touts P4000 LeftHands and 3PARs key design differentiators when competing in the VMware environment.For LeftHand, HP focuses on storage clustering for linear performance, capacity scalability, network RAID andmultisite SAN, in conjunction with VMware High Availability or VMware Fault Tolerance. For 3PAR, HP competeson its controller scalability and wide striping for consistent performance in a mixed workload environment —typical for VMware — and a suite of thin technologies, including the built-in zero-detection capability of the 3PARASIC for creating thin Eager Zeroed Thick VMDKs and Thin Persistence capabilities for reclaiming storagecapacity when deleting or moving VMs.On both platforms, HP also promotes unified management functionality with the Insight Control for vCenterManagement Plugs-ins across storage, servers and networking and VMware-aware, application-consistent,snapshot-based online data protection.Hitachi/Hitachi Data SystemsCompany/Product OverviewHitachi/Hitachi Data Systems is the fifth-largest storage system vendor in the world. Although Hitachi Ltd. has abroad technology portfolio, Hitachi Data Systems is Hitachis subsidiary selling storage solutions in the Americas,EMEA and Asia/Pacific excluding Japan. In recent years, Hitachi Data Systems has been successful in goingbeyond its traditional image of a "big iron" storage hardware supplier and achieved significant software and 11
  12. 12. service revenue (nearly 50% in 2011). It recently announced its vision for a journey from building an infrastructure cloud to building a content cloud and then an information cloud. Hitachi/Hitachi Data Systems has two main product families to serve VMware primary storage: high-end monolithic USPV/VSP and midrange modular AMS. Gartner estimates that its USPV/VSP hardware revenue grew 28% in 2011, accounting for 66% of the combined revenue of the two families. The AMS product revenue, on the other hand, remained flat in 2011. Both the USPV/VSP and the AMS platforms support key VAAI primitives. Their VASA support is expected in 2012. The September 2011 acquisition of BlueArc signaled that Hitachi Data Systems is getting more serious with its NAS strategy, which is likely to include VMware support with NFS data stores. Product Marketing Strategy VMware support is part of Hitachi Data Systems broader product marketing strategies, which focus on the storage virtualization technologies based on its ISPV/VSP platform to consolidate separate islands of storage infrastructure for various applications. Unlike some of its peers, which created VMware integrated solutions, Hitachi Data Systems chose to focus on Microsoft with its Microsoft HyperV Fast Track and Hitachi Exchange Converged Solution. Although the Hitachi NAS (HNAS) product line based on BlueArc has a low attach rate to VMware today, we expect Hitachi Data Systems to start marketing HNAS as a viable NAS solution for VMware in 2012 with its scalable file system and space-efficient cloning technologies. How Hitachi Data Systems Competes Hitachi Data Systems has been focusing more on software and service capabilities, channel partner programs and emerging global markets with successful results in the past few years. Hitachi Data Systems claims that its storage virtualization is able to offer up to 65% of capacity reclamation on existing storage assets, which include many heterogeneous arrays from different vendors. For VMware environments, Hitachi Data Systems stresses the benefits of its core storage functions, namely Hitachi Dynamic Tiering and Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning for increased VM density and automated performance load balancing, as well as 99.999% guaranteed uptime and no single point of failure. IBM Company/Product Overview With 14.2% market share in 2011, IBM is the second-largest ECB disk storage system vendor in the world. Its general-purpose ECB disk storage system portfolio consists of five disparate platforms — DS8000, XIV Storage System, Storwize V7000, DS5000 and N series. Representing approximately 30% of IBMs 2011 ECB disk storage market, the DS8000 is mainly deployed with IBM System z and IBM Power Systems, with limited installations supporting VMware. Presently, the DS8000 does not support VAAI or VASA. As a group, the IBM XIV, Storwize V7000, DS5000 and N series focus on the midrange and high-end modular disk storage market. This group increased year-over-year revenue by only 5% in 2011, based on Gartners estimates. While the Storwize V7000, XIV and DS5000 target the block-access ECB disk storage market, the N series addresses the file-access market.12
  13. 13. Product Marketing StrategyThe XIV Storage System, Storwize V7000 and the N series are the most popular products in the IBM ECB diskstorage system portfolio that natively support a VMware environment. Each brings a different set of attributesthat make them an attractive alternative for VMware infrastructures. IBM stresses the advantages of the XIV gridarchitecture because of its ability to provide predictable and consistent performance with low resource overhead.Moreover, the XIV supports VAAI and VASA, as well as vCenter and SRM plug-ins. The advanced data servicesoftware, such as thin provisioning, Easy Tier and virtualized storage, as well as unified storage, are the points ofemphasis made by IBM for the Storwize V7000. However, while the Storwize V7000 supports VAAI and hasvCenter management SRM plug-ins, it does not presently support VASA. Even though the N series is a unifiedECB disk storage system supporting both file- and block- access infrastructures, IBM markets the N series as itsprimary general-purpose file-access ECB disk storage platform. The N series provides comprehensive supportfor VMware environments and fully supports VAAI or VASA.How IBM CompetesThere is considerable overlap in IBMs ECB disk storage product portfolio. Accordingly, IBM has to be extremelycrisp in its product positioning and messaging. For VMware infrastructures, IBM provides the following guidanceto its worldwide field organizations:■ Emphasizing its price/performance attributes, the XIV is targeted at the high-end enterprise, nonmainframe segment.■ The Storwize V7000 is the block-access platform of choice for midrange VMware environments and is increasingly promoted as IBMs unified ECB disk storage system of choice.■ While the N series is a unified ECB disk storage platform, IBM positions it as the file-access platform of choice for midrange to enterprise VMware environments.■ The DS5000 is an ECB disk storage system that offers good price/performance with basic data management services.NetAppCompany/Product OverviewPropelled solely by organic growth, NetApp is the third-largest provider of external controller-based disk storagesystems in the world. It offers an integrated unified storage architecture that simultaneously supports file- andblock-access protocols with common management and data service software. The NetApp Data ONTAP platformscales seamlessly from its entry-level FAS2200, through the midrange FAS3200, and up to the high-endFAS6200. This platform is supported by a rich library of software that addresses utilization efficiency, dataprotection, multitenancy, high availability, and data retention and archiving for organizations ranging from largeenterprises to SMBs. In 2011, Gartner estimates that NetApps FAS systems grew revenue by 18.9%. NetApphas done a noteworthy job of integrating its value-added software with VMware core functionality, as well asbeing an early implementer of applicable VAAI and VASA. The company believes that the number of itscustomers using NFS to support the VMware environment has gone up substantially to about 50% to leveragethe ease of management for NFS data stores. 13
  14. 14. Product Marketing Strategy Emphasizing utilization efficiency, ease of use, common data service software for file- and block-access applications, and optimum time to value messaging, NetApp presents its FAS storage systems as best-of-breed offerings. This fundamental position is augmented by tight integration with leading ISVs, including Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and VMware, to create unified solutions for targeted industries. How NetApp Competes NetApp employs a diversified go-to-market strategy embracing value-added resellers (VARs), system integrators (SIs), distributors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that generate over 70% of its annual revenue. Beyond relationships with leading global distributors, NetApp also benefits from its reseller and OEM relationships with Fujitsu Technology Solutions (FTS), Fujitsu and IBM. These indirect sales channels are augmented by NetApps direct sales force, which concentrates on a small number of multinational accounts that require global support. Aside from early integration with VMware vStorage APIs and popular array-VMware integrations, such as remote replication and a vCenter plug-in, NetApp likes to highlight its other core value propositions. It claims that its deduplication function for primary storage can save VMware virtual server customers over 60% of storage capacity on average, and its FlexClone function, which supports the VMware linked clone offload, can save significant time by provisioning a large amount of VMs in minutes. NetApps Snapshot and SnapManager technologies are VMware-aware and support different levels of granularity for easier management. Other integrations with VMware include MetroCluster with VMware HA and Fault Tolerance, as well as MultiStore with VMware vShield. Oracle Company/Product Overview Oracles entry into the ECB disk storage market stems from its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2009 and Pillar Data Systems in June 2011. Oracle offers two primary ECB disk storage platforms for VM infrastructures: ZFS Storage Appliance and the Pillar Axiom. Both systems offer a broad set of controller-based data management service software to address the storage infrastructure needs of midsize to enterprise markets. Market traction for the ZFS Storage Appliance is improving, with 2H11 growing 8.2% over 2H10. Gartners revenue estimates for Pillar Data Axiom are almost $20 million for the second half of 2011. Product Marketing Strategy While both the ZFS Storage Appliance and Pillar Data ECB disk storage systems are able to support both block- and file-access protocols simultaneously, the ZFS Storage Appliance is targeted at the NAS market while the Pillar Axiom is Oracles lead offering for the SAN market. When selling the ZFS Storage Appliance into a VMware environment, Oracle emphasizes its advanced set of data service functions coupled with the Hybrid Storage Pools to enhance performance and comprehensive storage analytics. Presently, the ZFS Storage Appliance does not support VAAI or VASA. For VMware infrastructures, Oracle highlights the Pillar Axiom Quality of Service (QoS) feature, which is used to assign storage resources to match the VM physical server resource allocation, as well14
  15. 15. as its support for multitier hard-disk drives and solid-state drives. The Pillar Axiom does not support VAAI orVASA.How Oracle CompetesThe Pillar Axiom is recommended when customers want to discreetly provision and manage quality of serviceamong VMs. The ZFS Storage Appliance is recommended when automated performance management with deepstorage analytics is required.References and MethodologyGartner established the preliminary inclusion criteria for this report and conducted a vendor survey among all theplayers that potentially were to be profiled in this report. Other sources of information include vendor briefingswith Gartner in the past years and relevant Magic Quadrant survey responses in the past, as well as vendorspublic websites.© 2012 Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Gartner is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. or its affiliates. This publicationmay not be reproduced or distributed in any form without Gartner’s prior written permission. The information contained in this publication hasbeen obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of suchinformation and shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in such information. This publication consists of the opinions ofGartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. The opinions expressed herein are subject to changewithout notice. Although Gartner research may include a discussion of related legal issues, Gartner does not provide legal advice or servicesand its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner is a public company, and its shareholders may include firms and fundsthat have financial interests in entities covered in Gartner research. Gartner’s Board of Directors may include senior managers of these firmsor funds. Gartner research is produced independently by its research organization without input or influence from these firms, funds or theirmanagers. For further information on the independence and integrity of Gartner research, see “Guiding Principles on Independence andObjectivity” on its website, 15