Virtually every storage company touts its VMware-friendliness and why not. It's the hot growth segment and each competitor must disarm the notion that EMC, as the majority owner of VMware, has a distinct competitive advantage in the VMware storage space. From the rhetoric that's provided by vendors one would assume that IBM, HP, NetApp or Hitachi has a substantial share of the VMware storage market. But Dave Donatelli in his presentation today at EMC World 2008 showed some IDC data* (see footnote) that suggests EMC has an overwhelming storage share advantage in server virtualization markets in general, which of course VMware dominates.
According to EMC, the data was from a survey conducted by IDC in 2007 which asked customers to indicate their "Server Virtualization Storage Platform of Choice." Here are the results as transcribed from the slides Donatelli provided:
- EMC - 46%
- HPQ - 13.2%
- IBM - 9.3%
- Dell - 8.4% (includes products oem'd from EMC)
- Sun - 3.9%
- NTAP - 3.9%
- Hitachi - 3.5%
- Other - 11.5%
Wikibon found this information to be astounding given EMC's overall market share of roughly 30%. The sample size and geography for the survey were not divulged but Wikibon understands there were several hundred respondents and the predominant EMC platforms were CX and DMX. The survey probably represents brand awareness more than marketshare but the IDC data, if even close to reality suggests two main implications:
- EMC is indeed the leading provider of storage for VMware, a message VMware itself along with EMC's competitors have tried to downplay;
- By using EMC's arrays customers are not fully exploiting the benefits of VMware by virtualizing storage in unison with servers.
Discussions with Wikibon users suggest that most VMware customers do not synchronize storage and server virtualization projects-- many of these customers are EMC storage accounts. Yet studies with Wikibon users who do virtualize both storage and server infrastructure strongly point to the benefits of simplified management and much higher storage utilization. Despite a good file virtualization story with Rainfinity, EMC is late to the storage virtualization party, lending credence to the hypothesis that as the major supplier to VMware installations, storage virtualization is not front and center for EMC customers. The DMX only recently added thin provisioning and EMC's CX line has yet to announce broad virtualization capabilities.
On balance, this data probably reflects the large installed base of EMC, its excellent brand awareness and to a great extent the affinity VMware customers have for dealing with VMware's majority owner. VMware customers Wikibon spoke with at EMC World cited EMC's outstanding service and technical support in VMware environments as the primary reasons for not virtualizing storage and sticking with a non-virtualized EMC infrastructure. Users however should understand the implications of such choices and evaluate virtualization solutions from at least two of the many storage virtualization solutions on the market. These include EMC, IBM, Hitachi, HP, Sun, NetApp, 3PAR, Dell and others.
Action Item: Wikibon users indicate the process benefits of timing server and storage virtualization can be substantial to include simpler migration, faster provisioning and even better utilization of storage. Case studies indicate that users who do this are able to eliminate substantial waste and improve data center efficiencies. CIO's should aggressively incorporate storage virtualization into server virtualization plans or clearly make a case for not virtualizing storage in tandem with servers.
Footnotes: Since Wikibon wrote this piece at EMC World in May, several storage companies have called into question the validity of the IDC data. It appears that no more credible source of installed share information currently exists for virtualized server environments. Users should be aware that actual installed data may be different.