Despite the fact that storage is considered a mature technology, there is a good deal of innovation going on, especially among emerging cloud storage providers. These relative newcomers are disrupting the status quo by moving into the domain of traditional storage providers and changing the game to lure customers to switch allegiance.

Cloud storage players are adding NAS file-sharing capabilities to their product portfolios to accommodate legacy data and applications that are not suited to the use of block and object storage services.

While value for money (ROI/TCO) and customer service are the two most important selection criteria for storage and data management vendor selection, support for legacy environments is a key attribute for customers with large investments (and volumes of data) in traditional storage and data management systems.

An October survey of 710 members of the 451 Alliance explored trends in the storage market.

 
 

Data Continues to Grow

 
 

Massive data growth over the last couple of years is fueling interest in using that data to pursue new market opportunities and create a competitive advantage. Advances in AI and machine learning are generating new frameworks for leveraging the value of data, namely, comprehensive data analytics and management platforms, particularly from hyperscaler cloud vendors.

Over the next year, 88% of respondents anticipate an increase in the amount of data under management, and half of those respondents expect the increase to be moderate (25-49%).

 
 
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Traditional storage solutions remain the most common options for storing data; therefore, they currently remain the dominant IT infrastructure approach for data storage across companies of all sizes.

 
 
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The benefits of all-flash arrays include higher-speed data transfer and improved ability to share data across organizations via write-once, read-many functionality.

 Although pricing for all-flash arrays has dropped, traditional primary storage products remain a cheaper alternative. Consequently, this technology is more widely adopted in larger organizations with more than 1,000 employees and more than $1bn in revenue.

 
 
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Public cloud storage, however, is more evenly implemented a across large and smaller organizations. Key public cloud storage implementers include early tech adopters and organizations currently executing on digital transformation strategies.

 
 
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IT Storage Vendors

 
 

It is common for organizations to use multiple storage vendors, and the incumbents remain the primary vendor for many organizations. Dell leads the pack as the main storage/data management vendor in use for nearly a quarter of large enterprises with more than 1,000+ employees.

AWS has a foothold in the market thanks to S3 and Glacier. Its market reach will continue to grow due to file storage for AWS - Elastic File System (EFS). AWS as the primary storage vendor is more common among smaller organizations, as is usage of Microsoft Azure.

Pure-play storage vendor NetApp seeks to expand its stake in the hybrid cloud market with the recent acquisitions of StackPointCloud and Greenqloud. NetApp is also looking to expand its presence in the APAC region through a partnership with Lenovo. NetApp expects these moves to boost its usage rate in its large enterprise target market.

 
 
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Value for money is the most important attribute for organizations both large and small when seeking a storage/data management supplier. One of the key characteristics of a mature market is feature parity, especially among the top players. This, in turn, leads to increased pricing pressure as customers shop around for the best deal – all other factors being equal.

Customer service and support (60%) figures prominently as the second most important criterion for storage and data management vendor evaluation. This factor is disproportionately important for organizations in the healthcare and government/education sectors.

The importance of customer service and support is reflected in storage and data protection vendors’ recent emphasis on improving the predictive support capabilities of their products by harnessing artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as other technologies.

 
 
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Use of multiple vendors is commonplace, and many organizations do business with two to three vendors.

Unsurprisingly, multi-vendor usage is common for primary and secondary storage. However, many organizations also take the multiple-vendor approach within the primary and backup storage categories.

Among all respondents, the average number of storage/data management vendors in use is 2.2. Joint use of cloud and traditional storage is fairly common, with 31% of AWS cloud storage adopters using Dell storage and 26% using NetApp.

 
 
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Respondents were asked to rate their storage and data management vendors in several areas using a 10-point scale – high (8-10), medium (5-7) and low (0-4). Veeam took top honors with the highest overall score and received top marks for value, technical acumen, ease of use and customer service.

Amazon is viewed as having the best strategic vision and a well-rounded product and services portfolio.

IBM was lauded for its product and services portfolio, as well as good customer service and support.

HPE is the vendor that 'gets it' and has a clear understanding of a customer’s objectives; it also got high marks for providing support for customers' existing IT ecosystems.

 
 

Vendor Ratings – Highest Score by Attribute

 
 
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