Storage Wars: The Battle for Convergence

HP stated on a recent analyst call that its VirtualSystem best-of-breed integrated system is the “only real alternative to VCE” [Vblock]. While HP may have VCE in its competitive sights, all of the major storage vendors have been ramping up efforts in the converged infrastructure space.

While the number of virtual machines (VMs) that can be deployed on any infrastructure will vary by workload and there are many other capabilities (such as energy efficiency, cost, support, performance, and application support) that should be considered in evaluating stacks, it can be seen that not all stacks are geared for all environments.

The Channel and Service Providers

All of the vendors listed have solutions for the mid-market customers that are covered heavily by systems integrators (SIs) and value added resellers (VARs). Virtualization is the driving factor for adoption of the stacks and there have emerged many new or restructured practices that are geared towards delivering these new converged solutions. While it took VCE almost a year to sort out its relationship with the channel, NetApp has had a strong channel play with FlexPod from the start. HP claims a strong channel play with LeftHand storage that can be leveraged for VirtualSystem sales.

NetApp, HP and VCE also have larger configurations targeted for large enterprise and service provider environments. Service providers can be seen as a new channel that has the potential for large-scale deployments of stack solutions. Many service providers will deploy multiple vendors, so that if an end-user has a strong preference, they have that infrastructure available. Case in point, HP has over 10PB of 3PAR at Savvis, a service provider that also has Vblock deployments.

My POV: VCE and NetApp have claimed many competitive wins against HP with stack solutions that HP did not have a good answer to before VirtualSystem. HP has moved fast to integrate 3PAR technologies into the stack offerings and is making strong moves to reinvigorate the channel and the latest market share data is a good indicator that they have staunched the bleeding. Similar to the general storage market, HP, IBM and Dell are battling to narrow the leadership gap that EMC/VCE and NetApp have claimed for converged stacks [with Cisco]. 


Details on models:

VCE Vblock

HP VirtualSystem

NetApp FlexPod

IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud

Hitachi UCP

Dell vStart


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