Hardware purchasing trends confirm that software defined storage is the future

Storage hardware next to a file folder

Posted on Friday, June 9, 2017

As the IT industry searches for “the next big thing”, emerging technologies are often subject to media hype. Software defined storage (SDS) is one such technology, attracting big headlines and even bigger predictions.

As we quoted previously, the DataCore Sixth Annual “State of Software-Defined Storage, Hyperconverged and Cloud Storage” claims that SDS will account for 30 percent of total global data storage capacity by 2019. So where are the signs of this dramatic shift? Is it really underway?

Looking at Gartner’s data

The latest Gartner server market share figures make for interesting reading. Much of the IT press attention has been focused on the finding that server sales have fallen by four percent in the last quarter.

Obviously this drop coincides with changing purchasing habits – “cloud first” strategies mean businesses are buying more off-site capacity each quarter. There were still 503,000 server units shipped in the EMEA region however.

There was also plenty of attention given to market share statistics which suggest that Dell EMC is still king of the hill, claiming 17.9 percent. HPE experienced a 16.7 percent decline in server volume shipments over the last quarter.

What about SDS?

Although Dell EMC recorded revenue growth, OEMs are likely to be concerned about another trend in the server market – ODM purchasing. In a declining market, original design manufacturer (ODM) Inspur Electronics revealed a market-beating 27.3 percent growth in shipments.

For the SDS market, this finding is particularly interesting. SDS promises to commoditize storage, allowing adopters to deploy hardware from virtually any vendor – including white box servers from ODMs. This trend away from OEM server devices suggests that businesses are either performing general hardware refreshes using no-name units, or deploying ODM servers into an SDS infrastructure.

The likelihood is that the surge in ODM purchasing is indeed a sign that the SDS revolution is finally under way. If current trends continue as predicted, OEM market share will continue to decline steadily in the coming years.

Clearly OEMs will need to change their own offerings to avoid losing too much of their hardware business. Dell EMC is already providing support for third party hardware with their IsilonSD Edge offering for instance. We should probably expect to see the other storage giants following a similar plan in future too.

For businesses adopting ODM-powered SDS there is an opportunity to further reduce the total cost of ownership of their storage infrastructure. By redeploying post-warranty assets, including OEM arrays, businesses can increase capacity with no additional capital spend. And by partnering with CDS for maintenance and support, businesses can avoid a very expensive support agreement with the OEM for their post warranty assets.

Next steps

To learn more about SDS and how your existing post warranty assets can still play a role, please get in touch.