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Gartner Report

Gartner Report

Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays

Published: 13 July 2017 ID: G00315723




Within the next 12 months, solid-state arrays will improve in performance by a factor of 10, and double in density and cost-effectiveness, therefore changing the dynamics of the storage market. This Magic Quadrant will help IT leaders better understand SSA vendors' positioning in the market.

Strategic Planning Assumption

By 2021, 50% of data centers will use SSAs for high-performance computing and big data workloads, up from less than 10% today.

Market Definition/Description

This document was revised on 20 July 2017. The document you are viewing is the corrected version. For more information, see the Corrections page on

Considering the disruptive nature of solid-state arrays (SSAs) and their impact on the general-purpose external-controller-based (ECB) disk storage market, Gartner has elected to report only on vendors that qualify as an SSA vendor. We do not consider solid-state drive (SSD)-only general-purpose disk array configurations in this research. To meet our inclusion criteria, SSA vendors must have a dedicated model and name for an SSA, generally available by 4 March 2017, and the product cannot be configured with hard-disk drives (HDDs) at any time. These systems typically (but do not always) include an OS and data management software optimized for solid-state technology.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays

Source: Gartner (July 2017)

A vendor's position on the Magic Quadrant should not be equated with its product's attractiveness or suitability for every client's requirements. If a particular solution better fits your needs, has the appropriate support capabilities and is attractively priced, then it is perfectly acceptable to acquire solutions from vendors within any quadrant.

Vendor Strengths and Cautions

Dell EMC

Subsequent to Dell's acquisition of EMC, the Dell EMC flash storage arrays have been repositioned with the strategic aim to move the block-only XtremIO family into more specific niche market segments (such as virtual desktop infrastructure [VDI]). Meanwhile, the unified (block and file) VMAX All Flash and Unity All Flash SSA families are being strategically positioned for diverse high- to midrange applications, and the Isilon file and object systems now have a full-flash model. Due to the performance of all SSAs improving and the shared accelerated market collapsing, the DSSD offering is no longer available as an individual product, even though the technology is planned to be repurposed in Dell server and array products. Dell EMC now offers varied all-flash array options within hybrid systems (from both Dell and EMC legacy designs), but only the VMAX All Flash, Unity All Flash and XtremIO arrays are evaluated in this Magic Quadrant. Dell EMC now tends to lead with the VMAX All Flash and Unity All Flash families, rather than the previous flagship XtremIO products or traditional hybrid arrays. A new version in the VMAX All Flash family, the VMAX 950F, became available in June 2017. New and existing customers have many SSA product choices from Dell EMC, each of which has different administration graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and features that are not compatible with each other. Nevertheless, together with capacity-on-demand purchase programs to provide storage-as-a-service offerings, and inclusive software and upgrade programs, Dell EMC has a competitive solid-state array portfolio.

  • Dell EMC offers very competitive discounts with increasingly aggressive purchase terms and reduced costs for warranty and maintenance.

  • Dell EMC can assure legacy and future VMAX All Flash compatibility to a large installed base of customers that are already committed to Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) and other management features.

  • The company is providing increasingly sophisticated SSA and data reduction assessment tools for a wider range of products to help customers manage the move from HDD and hybrid arrays to SSAs.

  • New and existing customers often require extra purchases, such as ViPR, VPLEX and/or RecoverPoint, to provide integration between the different capabilities of the separate products.

  • VMAX All Flash and Unity All Flash have data compression, but do not yet support data deduplication.

  • Request detailed migration and upgrade paths for any future Unity All Flash and XtremIO products, specifically concerning data-in-place upgrades and their backward compatibility support with existing models.


Fujitsu significantly revamped its SSA product portfolio in November 2016 with the new Eternus AF series, consisting of the Eternus AF250 (with 737TB of raw capacity) and Eternus AF650 (with 2.9PB raw capacity). These new arrays span the entry-level to high-end segments. New features are selectable in-line deduplication and compression, and the AF series is still backward compatible with Fujitsu's previous DX200F SSA and the DX series of hybrid arrays. Therefore, the AF arrays provide good investment protection, and customers can replicate between AF and DX series arrays, using the same Eternus SF administration GUIs to manage all new AF arrays and existing DX arrays. Fujitsu has higher-than-average customer satisfaction for product and support, and the pricing of these new systems is very competitive. However, with the new deduplication feature in the AF series, combined with the existing compression features of the DX, effective capacities are expected to be much higher for the AF, depending on the type of data stored within the arrays. The AF arrays use an updated version of the Eternus controller software; therefore, previous features, such as clustering of AF arrays for high availability and quality of service (QoS), are still available. Clustering of AF arrays is a separately licensed feature. However, all other features required to use the AF series are included in the base price of the array. Fujitsu continues to provide price-versus-performance transparency with a newly published Storage Performance Council (SPC)-1 benchmark, which became available in January 2017.

  • Fujitsu offers migration services for existing Fujitsu HDD arrays to SSAs, and has beneficial swap-out financial terms for Fujitsu-sold Violin Memory arrays.

  • Fujitsu has delivered on its promised roadmap for the new AF series of arrays with a very comprehensive set of features. The vendor has a good understanding of future product requirements, such as Nonvolatile Memory Express (NVMe) and scale-out.

  • High-availability clustering provides quick failover and synchronization between systems.

  • In the Americas, Fujitsu has limited sales, support coverage and marketing, resulting in limited customer awareness.

  • The Eternus platform does not support secure isolation of storage pools, thus limiting the possibility of positioning the platform for private cloud environments.

  • Effective storage capacity guarantees are offered on a per-customer basis, and thus are not documented on the corporate website.

Hitachi Data Systems

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has understood the change in market direction toward SSAs, and has thus increased the speed at which it is transitioning from the disk-based array market into the solid-state array market. It has continued to successfully invest and focus its business toward SSAs, which can be seen by the steady cadence of product development. In October 2016, Hitachi Data Systems launched a larger Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) F1500 model to complement the existing VSP F400, F600 and F800 models. It also introduced 14TB flash modules, thereby almost doubling the previous raw storage capacity offered. At the same time, it rationalized its solid-state array product portfolio by dropping the Hitachi Flash Storage (HFS) A-series product line, which was positioned as an entry-level product. HDS has one of the highest satisfaction, support and quality ratings with customers. HDS offers secure data eradication services to meet National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards. It also designs and integrates its own purpose-built flash modules within the VSP F series, which enhances customization of capacity sizes and enables strong performance and availability. Base array software is included in a Foundation package; extras are sold as individually priced options and in a comprehensive Advanced package. Application-aware copy management with Hitachi Data Instance Director (HDID) is an extra optional and chargeable item. Compression is provided across all block and file protocols, and is offloaded to the application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to conserve system CPU. Deduplication is only available when using file protocols. The VSP F is one of the few SSA series that offers in-built storage virtualization, which is a proven product and technology coming from hybrid VSP general-purpose storage array series. Hitachi has a global presence, and offers storage as a service via capacity-on-demand offerings.

  • HDS has the ability to offload compression processing to the Flash Modules Drives (FMD) and FPGA acceleration for file storage.

  • HDS provides a 100% availability guarantee and a 2:1 data reduction guarantee.

  • Unlike most storage vendors that need a storage gateway, the HDS VSP F series natively integrates with Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3, Microsoft Azure and private cloud solutions on Hitachi Content Platform, and enables automatic migration of file data to these platforms.

  • The data administration GUI needs refinement to be more intuitive in order to simply and proactively meet customer demands.

  • The entry price is higher than competitors' low-end offerings, and small, dense two-rack-unit (2U)-high VSP-F SSAs are not available. The smallest array is 6U.

  • HDS concentrates on large enterprise customers, with the majority of HDS VSP F series customers being global enterprises that require high availability and large-capacity solid-state arrays.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) expanded its existing 3PAR StoreServ portfolio with its acquisition of Nimble Storage on 17 April 2017. The result is two product lines: the 3PAR StoreServ products, which feature common architecture and a shared software stack with the hybrid arrays; and the Nimble Predictive AF series, which also has a common architecture and shared microcode base with its equivalent hybrid arrays. HPE has changed its positioning terminology from the traditional high-end and entry terms to "flexibility," describing the 3PAR, and "simplicity," describing the AF series. Nevertheless, from a user perspective, the largest AF models can be successfully deployed for multipetabyte environments, and the smallest 3PAR configuration can be successfully deployed where capacity and IOPS demand is low. Customer satisfaction with Nimble Storage array support is high, due to its ease of use and to Nimble Storage's InfoSight Predictive Analytics, a remote monitoring and support tool that proactively addresses customer issues. The stated direction is that HPE will use the Nimble InfoSight capabilities to enhance predictive support for the 3PAR systems, but it is too early to tell whether it will quickly and successfully scale across the existing HPE installed base. Both products leverage efficient use of cost-effective SSD technology, and both feature data reduction capabilities, such as deduplication and compression (recently with HPE 3PAR), available with data efficiency guarantees. HPE leads the industry in scalability with its scale-up/scale-out architecture, which benefits from robust resiliency and manageability services. With HPE's separation from HP, it has demonstrated its ability to aggressively pursue the storage market, and particularly the SSA category, by attracting more channel partners and penetrating further into key verticals and geographies. Furthermore, it is expected that Nimble Storage can leverage HPE's channel influence to gain traction in emerging markets.

  • Both products feature a flexible architecture capable of utilizing NVMe Peripheral Component Interface Express (PCIe) SSDs and storage-class memory without a disruptive upgrade.

  • Infosight support provides detailed analytics and proactive resolutions that can identify issues outside the storage infrastructure, resulting in high customer satisfaction.

  • HPE successfully communicates the wider value proposition of SSAs by using its "flashonomics" program to sell business outcomes to customers, rather than concentrating on "speeds and feeds."

  • The HPE portfolio, through the 3PAR File Persona Software Suite, is still evolving as a stand-alone network-attached storage platform. Nimble only provides block storage protocols.

  • Existing 3PAR and Nimble customers that want one administration GUI may not want to have heterogeneous SSAs within their infrastructure.

  • It is yet to be seen whether HPE can efficiently integrate Nimble's support and service ability across the HPE installed base, and without degradation of high service levels across all customers.


IBM has adapted and evolved its SSA product portfolio, which offers the A9000, DS8000 series and Storwize series of SSA products. The V9000 was not included this year; it did not meet the inclusion criteria because it can be upgraded with disk drives (HDD), and therefore is a hybrid array. The IBM FlashSystem A9000 series leverages the XIV storage system software technology, and is the only product from IBM that offers deduplication as well as compression. The IBM FlashSystem solutions are built upon IBM's own developed flash module technology, which further optimizes the flash drive components for performance and reliability. However, IBM has leveraged industry-standard SSDs for its DS8000F and Storwize series of products. IBM's feature-rich software-defined storage offerings via Spectrum Storage suite complements its SSA portfolio by allowing customers to choose software offerings with a la carte pricing or through a unified licensing model. IBM offers hybrid cloud support across the Spectrum portfolio, which was enhanced in February 2017 to have native Network File System (NFS) access for cloud object storage. IBM's transition to a broader flash-focused portfolio is supported by guarantees that cover not only flash endurance and performance, but also compression and customer-friendly extended support and maintenance programs.

  • IBM has a broad portfolio spanning high-performance customer needs, including mainframe environments as well as entry-level and midrange products.

  • IBM Spectrum Storage software suite allows customers the flexibility to manage IBM and/or external storage solutions, and hybrid cloud support.

  • IBM's global presence has increased customer adoption in emerging markets, such as China, and driven awareness across key verticals, such as healthcare.

  • The DS8000F series offers neither compression nor deduplication, and is positioned for niche workloads and for IBM mainframe storage.

  • IBM has not stated a timeline for implementing deduplication capabilities in the Storwize series of products.

  • IBM's lack of a specific pathway to NVMe-based storage arrays within the next six months is limiting for customers looking to immediately exploit next-generation SSD and memory technology.


Kaminario updated its SSA in February 2017 with the sixth-generation K2 all-flash array, which uses an NVMe/PCIe-connected compression offload engine, and is ready for more NVMe and NVMe fabric features in the future. The K2 is still significantly differentiated in that Kaminario is one of the few vendors that offers a scale-up array that can also scale out. Existing and new customers have very good investment protection due to the ability of K2 to offer two previous generations of backward compatibility. This enables customers with existing investments in fifth-generation K2 arrays to expand with the new sixth-generation controllers and SSD shelves. Kaminario also provides the ability to transparently migrate data off older SSD shelves, and then dynamically decommission older controllers and SSD shelves as required without an application outage. Remote support is proactive and analytics-driven, so that problems are detected before they become issues. The vendor's array software, reliability, quality and upgradability lead customers to rate it very highly both satisfaction and performance, citing low latency and fast response times. Over 30% of Kaminario customers use their arrays in online transaction processing (OLTP) environments, which require consistently low response times. From a business value perspective, Kaminario now has a worldwide presence, with increased investments in emerging markets. It provides storage-as-a-service offerings together with an assurance program called ForeSight that guarantees effective capacity, 99.999% availability and assured performance. However, a significant majority of Kaminario's revenue is still from the cloud customer base. Kaminario uses an estimate tool for performance and data reduction analysis, but the guarantee is fixed. Kaminario is a private company and is keen to provide proof of concept tests for customers if required. Kaminario's worldwide presence continues to grow, as does its sales and customer base, and it has a solid value proposition for potential SSA customers.

  • Kaminario offers many guarantees, such as performance and a lifetime SSD wear-out guarantee as long the system is under an active support contract.

  • Kaminario has technological NVMe leadership and execution with NVMe-ready arrays and an existing NVMe/PCIe-attached compression offload engine.

  • Many investment protection programs are available, such as a 4:1 guaranteed effective capacity program.

  • Because Kaminario has targeted marketing programs to specific market segments, brand awareness is not achieved via the expected traditional "above the line" mass-media advertising methods.

  • Kaminario has limited QoS features.

  • Kaminario may not bid in situations where customers have long sales cycles, prefer to buy from traditional incumbent storage vendors, and expect deals that involve cross-product discounts and margin management.


Similar to many incumbent traditional disk storage array vendors, NetApp has finally transitioned to a coherent flash portfolio of SSAs. The integration of the SolidFire acquisition is complete, and the SolidFire (SF) product line continues to develop technically and into new workloads. More than half of NetApp's new array sales are SSA sales. The NetApp All Flash Fabric-Attached Storage (AFF) series now is one of the most fully featured arrays on the market, with wide protocol support, selectable compression and dedupe, and a potential maximum capacity of 88PB in cluster mode. The SF Series an iSCSI, FC block protocol true scale-out system is fully featured with unlimited SSD wear guarantees, has very extensive QoS features and scales to 3.4PB. Because only a small minority of customers need the multipetabyte maximum capacities of the AFF, SF or any other competitor's SSA, these scalability claims are indicators of technical ability, but more often than not, they are not practically implemented. NetApp also offers a much smaller and simpler EF-Series SSA, which has no data reduction and only has a raw maximum capacity of 384TB. With minor exceptions, the SF and EF have an all-inclusive software feature licensing scheme, while the AFF is sold with feature bundles such as the Premium or Base Flash bundle. Many guarantees are offered across the AFF and SF products, including unlimited SSD wear on the SF and free controller upgrades for the AFF. NetApp has successfully executed in delivering new customer-oriented products, a data management platform called Data Fabric and services that meet nearly all customer requirements. It is also growing and successfully competing within the SSA market.

  • NetApp has regained customer mind share with the Data Fabric value proposition, and can offer a solid-state array with features and guarantees for every customer need.

  • The SolidFire and AFF array features are also available as a software-defined storage (SDS)-only offering, Element X and Ontap Select. This enables customers to create their own large scale-out SSA infrastructures.

  • NetApp has become more flexible in pricing and discounts, and will offer very competitive purchase options to large existing customers as it moves from disk arrays to solid-state arrays.

  • NetApp often leads customer discussions with AFF cluster mode, even though many customers do not require cluster mode, due to the sufficient performance and effective capacity of dual-controller SSAs.

  • The EF-Series is most suited as a building block within integrated systems and environments that require only block storage protocols with no data reduction features required in the storage array.

  • SolidFire has limited integration with third-party backup providers.

Pure Storage

Pure Storage had a vision and a plan to move SSAs into new market segments and create a broader product portfolio, and it has successfully achieved its goal. Over the past year, the FlashArray//M series has increased its maximum raw storage capacity to 474TB. Within the same period, Pure Storage announced a new low-latency all-NVMe FlashArray//X series SSA and delivered a new file storage array called FlashBlade. Even though FlashBlade is a file protocol array, it has and will cause competitive disruption in the high-performance computing (HPC) file array market segment. As flash costs continue to lower, Pure Storage will disrupt the file and object storage market in the same way that the Pure Storage block protocol storage arrays disrupted the traditional hybrid array market by offering storage that is easier to purchase, own and upgrade, and that is faster, smaller and simpler to use. Pure Storage has grown its business, but is still not profitable. Nevertheless, a growing partnership with Cisco, which involves Pure Storage providing the storage for converged system solutions and competitive trade-in schemes, such as the EMC XtremIO Rescue and storage-as-a-service programs, will help Pure Storage to get into more solution-oriented accounts. These partnerships and offerings also enable Pure Storage to grow and compete in projects that were previously inaccessible. Customer satisfaction in terms of product quality, usability and support remains relatively high compared within the SSA market.

  • Pure Storage continues to develop its ease of purchase and ownership programs with the Evergreen Storage Gold support and upgrade program.

  • Customers do not require forklift upgrades to move to new FlashArray//M arrays, as the array controllers can be dynamically upgraded, systems are NVMe-ready and SSD storage can be upgraded with mixed capacities.

  • Pure Storage has shown that it can develop new products such as the FlashBlade and has maintained its cadence of gaining mind share in the market by expanding solid-state array use cases.

  • The differentiation of Pure Storage guarantees are being eroded as competitors are catching up with similar effective price capacity guarantees and proactive support programs, but not upgrade guarantees.

  • Compression and deduplication are always on and cannot be disabled for the FlashArray//M.

  • Applications that run on the FlashArray//M using the Pure Run feature are limited by the amount of array controller resources available to Pure Run apps. Therefore, the m series with the Pure Run feature should not be used as a full integrated system running CPU-intensive applications.


Tegile continues to be a Visionary leader within the SSA market, as many of the guarantees, purchase options, features and programs that Tegile offers still cannot be matched by its competitors. It has brought to market IntelliFlash Cloud Platform (CP), which is a horizontally clustered version of its arrays. IntelliFlash CP increases availability, scale and performance. Even though this is targeted for cloud infrastructure, this offering would also be useful in HPC and big data environments. The interoperability, flexibility of options and features of the Tegile arrays are probably the most extensive in the market. The arrays offer unified protocol support, very detailed instrumentation and configuration flexibility. Tegile has improved SSA revenue growth year over year, even though it only sells via its channel. It has also been able to develop and bring to market an updated product line, with the T4500, T4600, T4700, T4800 and T10000, which are all faster, bigger and less expensive than their predecessors. The flexibility of the product architecture allows Tegile to transition hybrid array sales to SSA sales, and Tegile is moving in this direction. Tegile offers competitive five-year SSD reliability, upgrade, IntelliCare support and 99.999% availability guarantees. Ease of use and deployment are simpler than most, and customers can, if desired, perform their own installations and upgrades and replace failed parts. Because all Tegile's arrays from the smallest, T4500 (which starts at 6TB), to the largest, T10000HD, which scales to 1.3PB use the same software, the administration and interoperability are very simple. Tegile continues to provide list price and discount percentage transparency on its purchase offers, and customer satisfaction is extremely high.

  • Tegile arrays have all the features customers require, and the vendor has extended its offerings with a high-availability IntelliFlash CP offering.

  • Tegile offers flexible storage array solutions within a single product line, from small arrays to large, clustered high-availability offerings.

  • A highly compact array with low rack, power and cooling requirements and extensive block and file protocol support makes Tegile one of the few unified SSA offerings.

  • Tegile has limited customer awareness within the Asia/Pacific region.

  • The Tegile SSAs do not have synchronous replication.

  • All Tegile arrays, except the T10000 IntelliFlash HD, are shipped with self-encrypting drives (SEDs).


Tintri specializes in solid-state arrays specifically for use in server-virtualized environments, where tasks such as storage provisioning and administration are done via the server virtualization administration tools. Since 80% of data centers have implemented server virtualization, this is a significant storage array segment, within which Tintri provides operational and infrastructure advantages. Tintri recently completed an IPO and has since become a public company. The vendor continues to successfully grow, invest and develop new product features such as synchronous replication, and to update its array products. New arrays with larger raw storage capacities are expected later in 2017. Nevertheless, the presently available T5000 series consists of the T5040, T5060 and T5080, which scale from 6TB to 92TB of raw capacity. Due to the characteristics of data within VDI and server virtualization environments, double-digit data reduction ratios (up to 30:1) can often be obtained. Therefore, due to their specific usage in data-reduction-friendly workloads, the effective capacity of a Tintri array can easily reach an order of magnitude larger than its raw capacity. Hence, its relatively low raw capacity is not a barrier. Tintri arrays not only have been designed with excellent hypervisor integration, simple administration and provisioning, but also are very simple to service for end users. Customers handle 60% of all field-replaceable units (FRUs). This simplicity is combined with the vendor's proactive remote support, which provides the ability to detect potential issues before a failure occurs, and to ship spare parts to customers before the part fails or an outage occurs.

  • Controller software upgrades are nondisruptive, and more than 90% of Tintri array OS upgrades are done by customers.

  • Tintri offers deep integration with VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and OpenStack, which simplifies the deployment and management of VMs from within native tools such as VMware vSphere Web Client and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).

  • Tintri offers a lower-cost, scalable and simpler alternative to SDS that disaggregates and decouples the storage from the server.

  • Even though synchronous and asynchronous replication are offered, consistency groups are not supported.

  • Tintri currently does not offer all-inclusive pricing, and customers need to pay for copy data management, replication and encryption separately, or they can choose the recently introduced Tintri Software Suite that combines these with Tintri Global Center management platform.

  • Tintri does not support block protocols (FC, FCoE, iSCSI), nor can it provision storage to physical hosts, limiting its appeal to environments that are highly virtualized.

X-IO Technologies

2016 was a challenging and transformational year for X-IO Technologies, as it announced in May 2016 a major reorganization of its business units and financial structure to improve its Ability to Execute, and narrowed its strategic focus. Most importantly, X-IO announced a new round of funding in January 2017 that will help support this long-standing privately held company. As a result, X-IO now focuses on providing products for its existing customer base and relies almost exclusively on channel partners for its go-to-market strategy. During this reorganization, the company made few improvements to its Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) 800 SSA, first announced in March 2015, opting for a more expansive launch with a greater feature set in its next-generation ISE platform. X-IO continues to promote its Axellio product, which currently can be used as an integrated system, but has the potential to be used in the future as a high-performance, low-latency, NVMe-based SSA. This remains new territory for X-IO, as Axellio is an adaptable storage platform suitable for many use cases.

  • X-IO's new management team has made necessary cost reductions and clarified the strategic direction that could improve the company's financial performance.

  • Low and consistent latency and response times are a primary value proposition for X-IO.

  • X-IO offers the ability to consolidate multiple applications and to manage via QoS policies.

  • X-IO is focused on a niche segment and its customer installed base for very low-latency, high-performance workloads.

  • The ISE 800 array employs enterprise-grade SSD technology, limiting its maximum density while at a costly premium, without the benefit of compression or deduplication.

  • X-IO Technologies is privately held and lacks the financial transparency important for customers to assess its long-term viability.

Vendors Added and Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant may change over time. A vendor's appearance in a Magic Quadrant one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.


Dell EMC


EMC (EMC was acquired and became part of Dell, and the company is now called Dell EMC.)

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To be included in the Magic Quadrant for SSAs, a vendor must:

  • Offer a self-contained, solid-state-only system that has a dedicated model name and model number (see Note 1).

  • Have a solid-state-only system. It must be initially sold with 100% solid-state technology and cannot be reconfigured, expanded or upgraded at any point with any form of HDD within expansion trays via any vendor's special upgrade, specific customer customization or vendor product exclusion process into a hybrid or general-purpose SSD and HDD storage array.

  • Sell its product as a stand-alone product, without the requirement to bundle it with other vendors' storage products in order to be implemented in production.

  • Have a product and a service capability that is available in at least two of the following markets Asia/Pacific, EMEA, North America and South America via direct or channel sales. Availability does not include hybrid (SSD, HDD) storage arrays.

  • Provide at least five references that Gartner can interview. There must be at least one client reference each from Asia/Pacific, EMEA, North America and South America, or from the two geographies within which the vendor has a presence.

  • Provide an enterprise-class support and maintenance service, offering 24/7 customer support (including phone support). This can be provided via other service organizations or channel partners.

  • Have established notable market presence as demonstrated by the amount of petabytes sold, number of clients or significant revenue.

The SSAs evaluated in this research include scale-up, scale-out and unified storage architectures. These arrays have different availability characteristics, performance profiles, scalability, ecosystem support, pricing and warranties. The SSAs enable users to tailor solutions against operational needs, planned new application deployments, and forecast growth rates and asset management strategies.

While the SSA Magic Quadrant represents vendors whose dedicated systems meet our inclusion criteria, ultimately, it is the application workload that governs which solutions you should consider, regardless of any criteria.

Other vendors and products were considered for the Magic Quadrant, but did not meet the inclusion criteria. These vendors and/or specific products may warrant investigation based on your application workload:

  • American Megatrends (AMI) StorTrends 3600i

  • DDN Storage SFA7700XI SDA12KX , IME240, IME14K

  • Dell Storage SC Series

  • Nexsan

  • NimbusData

  • Oracle All Flash FS1

  • Pivot3

Note: Italics represent products that did not meet inclusion requirements. Remaining company/products may be considered in the future if sufficient market presence materializes.

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

We analyze the vendor's capabilities across broad business functions. Vendors that have expanded their products across a wider range of use cases and applications, improved their service and support capabilities, and focused on improving mission-critical applications will be more highly rated in the Magic Quadrant analysis. Ability to Execute reflects the market conditions and, to a large degree, it is our analysis and interpretation of what we hear from the market. Our focus is assessing how a vendor participates in the day-to-day activities of the market:

  • Product or Service evaluates the capabilities of the products or solutions offered to the market. Key items to be considered for the SSA market are how well the products and/or services address enterprise use-case needs, the critical capabilities of the product (see "Critical Capabilities for Solid-State Arrays" ) and the breadth of product and/or solutions.

  • Overall Viability includes an assessment of the organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue to invest in the product, offer the product and advance the state of the art in the organization's product portfolio.

  • Sales Execution/Pricing looks at the vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

  • Market Responsiveness/Record focuses on the vendor's capability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the provider's history of responsiveness.

  • Marketing Execution reflects unaided awareness (that is, Gartner end users mentioned the vendor without being prompted) and a vendor's ability to be considered by the marketplace. Vendor references, Gartner inquiries and end-user client search analytics results are factored in as a demonstration of vendor awareness and interest.

  • Customer Experience looks at a vendor's capability to deal with postsales issues. Because of the specialized nature of the storage market and the mission-critical nature of many of the storage environments, vendors are expected to escalate and respond to issues in a timely fashion with dedicated and specialized resources, and to have relevant detailed expertise. Another consideration is a vendor's ability to deal with increasing global demands. Additional support tools and programs are indications of a maturing approach to the market.

  • Operations considers the ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Completeness of Vision

Completeness of Vision distills a vendor's view of the future, and of the direction of the market and its role in shaping that market. We expect the vendor's vision to be compatible with our view of the market's evolution. A vendor's vision of the evolution of the data center and of the expanding role of SSAs is an important criterion. In contrast with how we measure Ability to Execute criteria, the rating for Completeness of Vision is based on direct vendor interactions and on our analysis of the vendor's view of the future:

  • Market Understanding looks at the technology provider's capability to understand buyers' needs, and to translate those needs into an evolving roadmap of products and services. Vendors must show the highest degree of vision, listen to and understand buyers' wants and needs, and be able to shape or enhance those wants and needs with their own added vision.

  • Marketing Strategy relates to what vendor solution message is described, how that message is communicated, what vehicles are used to effectively deliver it, and how well the buying public resonates with and remembers the message. In a market where many vendors and/or products can sound the same, or sometimes not even be known, message differentiation and overall awareness are vital.

  • Sales Strategy considers the strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.

  • Offering (Product) Strategy looks at a vendor's product roadmap and architecture, which we map against our view of enterprise requirements. We expect product direction to focus on catering to emerging enterprise use cases for solid-state arrays.

  • Business Model assesses a vendor's approach to the market. Does the vendor have an approach that enables it to scale the elements of its business (for example, development, sales/distribution and manufacturing) cost-effectively, from startup to maturity? Does the vendor understand how to leverage key assets to grow profitably? Can it gain additional revenue by charging separately for optional, high-value features? Other key attributes in this market are reflected in how the vendor uses partnerships to increase sales. The ability to build strong partnerships with a broad range of technology partners and associated system integrators demonstrates leadership.

  • Vertical/Industry Strategy measures the vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.

  • Innovation measures a vendor's ability to move the market into new solution areas, and to define and deliver new technologies. In the SSA market, innovation is key to meeting rapidly expanding requirements and to keeping ahead of new (and often more agile) competitors.

  • Geographic Strategy measures the vendor's ability to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries, as appropriate for that geography and market.

Quadrant Descriptions


Vendors in the Leaders quadrant have the highest scores for their Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. A vendor in the Leaders quadrant has the market share, credibility, and marketing and sales capabilities needed to drive the acceptance of new technologies. These vendors demonstrate a clear understanding of market needs; they are innovators and thought leaders; and they have well-articulated plans that customers and prospects can use when designing their storage infrastructures and strategies. In addition, they have a presence in all four major geographical regions, consistent financial performance and broad platform support.


Vendors in the Challengers quadrant participate in the SSA market and execute well enough to be a serious threat to vendors in the Leaders quadrant. They have strong products, as well as sufficient credible market position and resources to sustain continued growth. Financial viability is not an issue for vendors in the Challengers quadrant, but they lack the size and influence of vendors in the Leaders quadrant.


A vendor in the Visionaries quadrant delivers innovative products that address operationally or financially important end-user problems at a broad scale, but it has not demonstrated the ability to capture market share or sustainable profitability. Visionary vendors are frequently privately held companies and acquisition targets for larger, established companies. The likelihood of acquisition often reduces the risks associated with installing their systems.

Niche Players

Vendors in the Niche Players quadrant often excel by focusing on specific market or vertical segments that are generally underpenetrated by the larger SSA vendors. This quadrant may also include vendors that are ramping up their SSA efforts, or larger vendors having difficulty in developing and executing upon their vision.


This Magic Quadrant represents vendors that sell into the enterprise end-user market with specific branded SSAs. An insatiable demand for storage also demands a more capable high-performance tier that can deliver low-latency storage more reliably in order to create tangible benefits. As high-performance storage demand explodes, it will require even more storage administration and deeper analytics, emphasizing the perpetual need for storage efficiency, resiliency and manageability to counter this trend.

Market Overview

The overall solid-state array market grew by 72%, with a total revenue of $4.6 billion in 2016. The purchase price of SSAs continues to drop by at least 40% in the last 18 months. Together with the inclusive software, upgrade, reliability and effective capacity guarantees, these factors continue to make SSAs a convincing value proposition. Most of the traditional incumbent and system vendors have transitioned their overall storage array businesses to SSAs, where more than 50% of new storage array sales are SSAs. However, these reverse-engineered hybrid disk arrays that have been converted to SSAs are often much less efficient in physical size, and many still do not have a complete set of data reduction features. Nevertheless, due to the data reduction techniques available in the new generation of SSA customers are now purchasing less physical storage. Solid-state arrays have moved to highly integrated application development platforms with agility features such as many different types of data copies, backups, migrations and services for applications within containers.

Due to NVMe and 3DXPoint becoming available within SSAs, the performance of SSAs will increase tenfold in the next year. Many workloads will not need the multimillion input/output operations per second (IOPS) performance that these arrays offer and that vendors tout as hero numbers. But customers will demand the lower response times, which will drop from milliseconds to microseconds. For these to be successful, NVMe (which is a replacement for SCSI; see "The Future of Storage Protocols" ) will have to be end-to-end from the server to the array. Luckily, this will be achieved by using NVMe over Fabric (NVMeoF), which will exploit the mature and proven features of Fibre Channel and Ethernet to provide the network connectivity and transportation of NVMe over these Fabrics (see "The Future of Just a Bunch of Flash Storage" ).

Many IT departments are still moving to their first solid-state array, while the products and technology improvements change faster than customers can adapt their storage infrastructures. SSA development and change continue at a very fast rate. The ability of SSAs to share data between many applications and servers without the requirement to move data or storage, or to create islands of isolated storage, has improved data center agility. Software costs and complexity are reduced as vendors have integrated software-defined storage administration orchestration and provisioning within the features of their storage array's controller software, thereby virtualizing, disaggregating and decoupling storage from the server layer. This also makes the three-year server replacement life cycle task simpler. With SSAs being kept for seven years, with all software features included, customers need to spend less time and money on SDS server migration projects and moving data between integrated systems. Modern licensing schemes, compared with legacy and traditional server-based software licensing methods, make these features simpler to acquire, upgrade and maintain over several years without the need to replace and patch the server software (see "The Future of Storage Protocols" ).


  • More than 2,000 Gartner client inquiries in 2016 and 1H17

  • Vendor interviews and product demonstrations in 2016 and 1H17

  • Surveys of included vendors

  • Customer reference surveys in 1H17

  • Gartner's dedicated SSA market share forecasts and research between 2013 and 2016

  • Public information, such as U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, press releases, vendor websites and community support forums

Note 1 
Product Feature Qualification

Product features considered for inclusion must have been in general availability by 31 March 2017 to be considered in the vendors' product rating. New products lack sufficient market validation and references.

Evaluation Criteria Definitions

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.

Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.

Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.

Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.

Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Completeness of Vision

Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.

Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.

Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.

Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.

Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor's underlying business proposition.

Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.

Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.

Geographic Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.

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