Last week Gartner released their second Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays, and as always, it has a lot to say about both the rapid pace of growth of the industry, as well as the evolution of the vendors themselves.

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2015 SSA Gartner Magic Quadrant

What makes Gartner, and the Magic Quadrant unique, is that it is derived via an extensive customer-based and vendor-based research process. Gartner leverages end-user customer advisory relationships, which means that they both a) have access to a wide spectrum of end users who they interact with daily through advisory calls and research projects, and b) their loyalty ultimately lies with those end-users, and they take the responsibility of providing an accurate view of the market to end-users as their top priority.

So, as we read this year’s MQ, a few observations that it tells us:

1) The pace of adoption of Flash is not slowing down, and is surprising everyone. Gartner released their market share numbers in May showing 130% growth for the SSA market, and now followed-suit by releasing this second MQ only 10 months after the first. This is break-neck speed for Gartner, it is typical to release an MQ every year to year and a half. Why such a fast pace? Well a lot has changed in the market, and many dots have moved!

2) Pure was recognized as the “furthest right” on the vision axis for the second year in a row (as well as being second-highest in ability to execute). This is a reflection of our continued focus on product, customer experience, and business model innovation in the space. In 2015 Pure extended our strong software leadership by marrying it with innovation in purpose-built hardware (see our recent FlashArray//m announcement), cloud-based management (read about Pure1), and further improving our customer-friendly business model (learn about Evergreen Storage).

3) Pure was the only “leader” who maintained our position in 2015. With the “recipe” of what a Solid-State Array is now well-defined in the market, this past year was a year to test which vendors could really deliver products capable of evolving from single-application acceleration to true tier 1 storage consolidation. While some of the larger vendors found success in moving flash through bundling and aggressive installed-base promotion (i.e. discounting), they struggled to deliver data reduction with consistently good results across multiple workloads and a modern approach to the enterprise-class features customers expect from tier 1 arrays. Innovations from non-disruptive upgrades that require no pre-planning to easy forever flat maintenance pricing that includes free controller upgrades are just some of the ways Pure is reinventing tier 1 storage for modern data centers.

4) Purpose-built approaches continue to shine. If you look at the vendors who “moved up” this year, all are vendors who have invested in new, purpose-built architectures around flash (with the notable exception of HP). Building from scratch and optimizing end-to-end for flash continues to be a differentiator in this market (surprise! flash is different in almost every way). Interestingly, NetApp just announced their intention to double-down on their FAS retrofit strategy, we’ll see where this third generation of their flash strategy takes them.

5) Big Storage (sometimes begrudgingly) is quickly getting “all in” with flash. Although Pure pioneered this market in making all-flash mainstream, we can’t make a market all on our own, so we have been excited to see Big Storage slowly get on-board. 2014-15 saw EMC, IBM, HP, and now even maybe NetApp decide that they were going to “lead with flash.” This is only helping to accelerate the inevitable shift of the tier 1 disk market to 100% flash, and it is helping more and more customers realize that in 2015, investments in disk aren’t investments in the future.

I wanted to end with a thank you to all the Pure customers and partners out there who have made this success possible. Thank you for being a customer, thank you for constantly pushing us to innovate and build better products, and thank you for sharing your successes enthusiastically with Gartner!

And we can’t wait for the 2016 MQ…we’re fresh off of announcing a brand new product, management experience, and business model…but don’t worry – we’ve got a lot more cookin’ in store for you this year and next.