Tonight’s Forecast: The Perfect Storm


What do NetApp, EMC, and IBM Storage have in common? All three will follow the same path as Silicon Graphics, Kodak, Sun Microsystems and BlockBuster.

What is the Perfect Storm?
The Perfect Storm is the wide adoption of Amazon AWS in enterprises instead of EMC, IBM or NetApp. The Perfect Storm is the new hybrid and all-flash array vendors and hyper-scale players who are being chosen instead of NetApp, EMC, and IBM Storage. What Nvidia did to Silicon Graphics or NetFlix did to BlockBuster was minor compared with what is happening to traditional storage leaders. 

Not EMC, IBM or NetApp has a credible cloud storage story to go up against the maturity and power of AWS. Not one of those companies are even relevant to the new breed of flash and hybrid array start-ups.

ice-truck-driverIn many deals, EMC, IBM and NetApp give their flash products away for free, just to save the business. When it comes to hyper-converged systems, all three look like ice salesmen when refrigerators came on the market — their product is no longer needed.  Lack of vision and huge deployment costs are placing EMC, IBM and NetApp on track to join vendors who have faced the Perfect Storm in the past.

Dismantling to stay relevant
Let’s be honest with ourselves: as an IT leader, if you mention Amazon AWS and EMC Cloud in the same sentence, you must make your IT decisions based on articles from the back of a United Airlines Hemisphere magazine. An IT leader would not even consider IBM flash against real enterprise flash arrays with dedupe and compression. And when it comes to hyper-converged, EMC, NetApp, and IBM storage are closer to Ringo Starr than any other Beatle.

The fact is, all three companies are dismantling their existing storage array business just to stay relevant in Flash and Cloud — but at what cost?

In the case of EMC, they are dismantling the once lucrative Tier One business for Scale IO and Extreme IO, which are considered mediocre solutions in their respective categories. As for IBM, they are doing the same with XIV for their TMS flash business. Neither have an overall credible story against AWS, new Flash array leaders, or Hyper-Scale players.

The Storm is in the numbers
The Quarterly numbers for NetApp, EMC, and IBM clearly indicate that the Perfect Storm is on the horizon.  Nevertheless, all three companies will not admit to the storm that they face.  However, a vast majority of their partners, resellers, and customers paint a different picture.

For me, the question is which of the three will be the next Silicon Graphics?

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