The Four Storage Horsemen of the Age – Blocks and Files


Pardon the pun, but this is not the apocalypse. We compared storage growth rates for Dell, HPE, NetApp, and Pure Storage and spotted notable differences with HPE declining, Dell beginning a recovery, NetApp rising after 8 consecutive quarters of growth, and Pure entering its eighth year of growth. growth, but with a setback of two quarters in 2021.

Our charts track storage revenue by quarter over fiscal years and reveal changes in quarterly revenue by fiscal year. Industry leader Dell’s pattern since 2018 is growth until 2019, then a slight slowdown for two and a half years until the third quarter of 2022, when growth resumed, accelerating sharply during its last trimestre.

HPE stalls in growth in Q4 2019, a quarter earlier than Dell, then declines until Q1 2021, after which growth restarts but is stifled three quarters later, with its final quarter posting a 3% decline to $1.1 billion. Its overall trend line on the chart is that of decline.

NetApp’s story goes back much earlier but, like Dell and HPE, it shows that growth stalled three years ago; actually in the fourth quarter of 2019, and dipping throughout 2020. It then shows a steady increase for eight consecutive quarters, beating both HPE and Dell in the percentage growth rate stakes.

That’s a good thing, but NetApp, in turn, is eclipsed by Pure Storage, the smallest vendor in our quartet, whose steady growth rate and rising revenue are spectacular.

All of this leads us to wonder why these four providers have such different revenue shifting patterns.

One factor is that Pure only sells all-flash arrays (AFA) in the on-premises and quasi-cloud markets, while the others have broader product portfolios, with entry-level products, midrange and high-end, AFAs, disks and hybrid flash/disk arrays, purpose-built backup arrays (not NetApp), scalable filers (Dell), and hyperconverged appliances (not yet NetApp).

All four are moving from perpetual licenses to as-a-service offerings, building a storage software presence in public clouds and providing storage for containerized workloads.

In general, all four push AFA products, so why is Pure doing so well? Does he simply have a better product? It’s tempting to say that Dell and HPE are mature vendors with less room in the market for dramatic Pure-like growth. NetApp is also a mature company, and it’s growing at a faster rate than Dell or HPE. It may benefit from being earlier in the public cloud arena with its Data Fabric concept, successful partnership with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, and recent CloudOps product services.

Pure looks like it is growing at a faster rate because it has better products, a better upgrade program, and better deals as a service. The others will certainly dispute it, but their arguments are made less convincing either by negative growth or by significantly slower growth rates than Pure’s.


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