Mar 19, 2014


Gartner has long been a major influencer in many technology markets. Many CIO’s include Gartner’s research assessment to support their evaluations before they make a buying decision.  Up to now, Gartner’s research methodology was comprised of the Magic Quadrant, also known as the Magic window for the graphical way that technology providers are positioned in four quadrants representing their position as Leaders, Visionaries, Niche Players and Challengers. For emerging or mature markets, Gartner’s MarketScopes is represented as the best tool to help clients understand how the status of an emerging or mature market aligns with their own state of maturity and future plans. Oftentimes these assessments seemed subjective since the criteria was not understood or the criteria did not seem to be applied in a consistent manner.  Also achieving an excellent in a MarketScope assessment did not help a CIO if two or more vendors got the same rating.


Gartner has introduced their Critical Capabilities assessment, which provides a clearer, more transparent, assessment than their Magic Quadrant, or MarketScope methodologies.  In this assessment they evaluate the product against critical capabilities that are usable by IT leaders and also against the major use cases for that product. The use of critical capabilities and use cases will vary by product category. The Critical Capabilities methodology provides a clearer assessment on which to make an informed decision.

Last week Gartner published their Critical Capabilities research document for General Purpose Disk Arrays.  The research analyzes 12 high-end storage arrays (DDN SFA12K, EMC VMAX, Fujitsu Eternus DX8000 S2, HDS HUS VM, HDS VSP, HP 3PAR Store-Serv 10000, HP P9000, Huawei Ocean-Stor 18000, IBM DS8870, IBM XIV, NetApp FAS/V6200 and Oracle Pillar Axiom) across six high-impact use cases (Overall, Consolidation, OLTP, Server Virtualization and VDI, Analytics and Cloud,) and quantifies product attractiveness against eight critical capabilities that are required by IT leaders (Manageability, RAS, Performance, Snapshot and Replication, Scalability, Ecosystem, Multi-Tenancy and Security, and Storage Efficiency.)

The following two tables from this report are reproduced here with permission from Gartner. This first table shows the weighted averages for each product based on the Critical Capabilities Gartner has identified in their research document


This second table shows the overall score for each product for each use case.


As you might expect, since I am blogging about this report, HDS VSP and HUS VM did very well, placing high across the board in terms of critical capabilities, along with the HP OEM version of VSP, the HP P9000. In terms of the uses cases, which may be the more important assessment for IT leaders, HDS VSP and HP P9000 had the highest rating across all 5 use cases, Overall, Consolidation, OLTP, Server Virtualization and VDI, Analytics and Cloud. HUS VM, which is priced and packaged for the midrange came in at 3rd place. This is a clear message to midrange customers that you do not have to sacrifice enterprise or general purpose capabilities just because of price range. The only thing that is limited in HUS VM is multi-petabyte scalability and mainframe support, which should not be a concern for midrange users.

This report will be criticized and rationalized by many vendors whose products did not rank as highly as they might have otherwise been marketed. From my perspective, this report is not entirely complete since it does not rate environmentals as a critical capability, and that is an increasing cost factor in data centers today. I also would like to see an assessment of software, as software plays an increasing role in the capabilities of the hardware, but that may be assumed in their assessment of the use cases. These assessments are done at a point in time, and you would expect the more recent products to have a technology edge over some of the more mature products. Although the Hitachi VSP was first introduced in September of 2010, it still ranks higher than all the more recent products that have tried to take the lead. This testifies to the investment protection that is built into the architecture of the VSP.

At any rate this is a major improvement in the way that Gartner does their research and should be more useful to IT leaders as they make their decisions on storage, which is still the biggest cost item in their data centers.