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Magic quadrant is not exactly spell-binding

Modular arrays fail to pull rabbit from hat

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Gartner's latest mid-range and high-end modular disk array magic quadrant isn't very magical; there are no new players in the hot box and a minor exchange of places in the dog box, the bottom left-hand corner.

The Magic Quadrant (MQ) is the world's most famous four-box diagram and places suppliers in one of four boxes plotted on two axes: completeness of vision running from left to right, an ability to execute running vertically.

This gives us a bottom left-hand box for niche players, an upper left-hand box for challengers, a lower right-hand box for visionaries and an upper right-hand one for leaders. Gartner brings out a new version of the block-access mid-range and high-end modular storage arrays MQ each year and the November 2010 version is now out.

The leaders' box occupants tend to send out press releases saying they are leaders and crowing about it. Generally speaking, the race in the leaders' box is towards the top right-hand corner and EMC and NetApp are more or less equal here with Dell and IBM following, followed in turn by Hitachi Data Systems and then, some way behind, by HP. Gartner kindly places 3PAR in the challengers' box and doesn't lump it in with HP.

Also in the challengers' box are Oracle and Fujitsu, both on or just over the edge from being niche players. There are three suppliers in the visionaries' box too: Compellent near the boundary with the leaders' box, but slightly further away from it than last year, and Pillar Data and Xiotech lower down.

The niche players' box is cluttered with NEC, Data Direct Networks (almost as visionary), newcomer Huawei Symantec, failed IPO supplier Nexsan, SGI and Infortrend. As Huawei has come in BlueArc has gone out, ejected because – according to Gartner – it hasn't been pushing its iSCSI block access capability hard enough.

Back to filer-dom for you, BlueArc. In comes Huawei Symantec, the joint-venture between Symantec and Huawei of China with its Oceanspace S5000 and S6000 arrays.

The big news in this MQ will probably come next year if suppliers cross box boundaries. Will Compellent cross into the leaders' box? It has been spending a ton of money with Gartner this year, being a primary sponsor of its London Data Centre Summit this month. Will Fujitsu rise further in the challengers' box as it builds out its North American sales, service and support capability? Either Fujitsu or Oracle might fall into the niche players' box though.

Could HP fall out of the leaders' box? What a dreadful prospect that would be for Leo Apotheker, David Donatelli and David Scott. We can only imagine the conversations going on to pre-empt such an event. Imagine how Oracle would hoot with derision. ®

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