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A Guide to Flash Storage and SSD Fundamentals

Friday, 11 September 2015 17:14:23 Europe/London

In this special report, we look at the basics of flash storage – what it is, how it works, who makes it, where to deploy it, how to spec it and how to troubleshoot it – and guide you through the key areas of all-flash, hybrid or PCIe; MLC vs SLC; speccing for performance and troubleshooting flash.

 

Click here to download the guide in PDF format.

 

A Guide to Flash Storage and SSD Fundamentals

Comments | Posted in Industry News By James Richardson

Server vendors must increase functionality - IDC

Wednesday, 9 September 2015 09:15:00 Europe/London

Vendors told they must offer better products if they wish to support increased ASPs

Server vendors have been warned that they need to increase the functionality of their products or an increase in prices will soon begin to hurt sales. The warning comes on the back of IDC's second-quarter figures, which showed that EMEA server shipments fell 4.5 per cent year on year to 525,059.

 

emptying-piggybank

 

 

The decline in revenues was not quite so severe, with the market's worth dropping 2.5 per cent annually in Q2 to $3.1bn (€2.78bn). This disparity was partly the result of an increase in average selling prices (ASPs) at the top end of the x86 market, as vendors worked to offset the damage caused by the dollar's strength against the euro. The effect of the European currency's sharp drop in the past year is demonstrated by the fact that the market still declined in dollar terms, despite euro revenues increasing by 21 per cent year on year.

 

The hefty rise in ASPs that vendors have introduced to compensate for this can be supported only if they are willing to start providing end users with commensurately better products, the analyst claims. "IDC predicts that these ASP increases could start to affect value propositions and demand towards the end of 2015 if vendors cannot justify the increased prices with additional functionality and performance," said IDC. Western Europe continued to be the EMEA server market's mainstay in Q2, with revenues in the region of $2.5bn coming in flat in dollar terms in comparison with the prior year.

 

The central and eastern Europe region was hurt by instability in Russia, and saw revenues decline 22.8 per cent annually to $272m. Sales across the Middle East and Africa rose 1.9 per cent to $382.44m.

 

    • HP maintained a dominant lead at the top of vendor leaderboard, holding 35 per cent of the EMEA market by revenue in the second quarter. Following IBM's sale of its x86 business to Lenovo,

 

    • Dell now sits in second place and has narrowed the amount by which it lags HP by 1.5 points in the past 12 months. The Texan firm now has a 17 per cent market share, and increased Q2 sales by 4.5 per cent year on year to $528m.

 

    • IBM now sits in third with a 14.1 per cent slice of the EMEA server space, having shed more than a third of its revenues and market share in the past 12 months.

 

    • Lenovo, conversely, has seen its business increase more than thirtyfold with the IBM System x buyout. The Chinese vendor accounted for 7.4 per cent of EMEA server revenues in 2015's second quarter, up from just 0.2 per cent in the corresponding period last year.

 

  • Cisco – which grew sales 7.6 per cent to $164m and holds a 5.3 per cent share of the market – completed the top five.

 

http://www.channelnomics.eu/channelnomics-eu/news/2425194/server-vendors-must-increase-functionality-or-price-rises-will-hurt-market-idc 

Comments | Posted in Industry News By James Richardson

HP Split Wrong Move? by Michael Dell

Tuesday, 8 September 2015 13:00:19 Europe/London

Why HP Split might be a Completely Wrong Move: Michael Dell

 

Why HP Split might be a Completely Wrong Move: Michael Dell

 

Splitting a company might be good for investment bankers but certainly not for the customers. We believe in ‘end-to-end integrated solutions’ story, says Michael Dell, Chairman & CEO, Dell.

 

The enterprise technology landscape is undergoing a metamorphosis in half a decade. Tech Giants and traditional competitors HP, IBM and Dell too have changed their GTM – one quite different than the other. IDG Media questionned Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell -- on an India visit -- about why Dell commands an edge in the fast changing technology world.

 

In past three years; HP split into two companies, IBM sold x86 servers with more focus on software and Dell became a private company. Doesn’t the fast changing OEM landscape confuse CIOs, Channels and Customers?

 

I have a little bit of a different lens about the big changes occurring in a company. If an investment banker said that your company will be more valuable if you split into two entities, that’s really interesting. But is it really good for the end customers?

 

I have a little curiosity about HP split given the fact that there is an absolute explosion in number of devices at the moment and they are separating the two divisions - devices and datacenter. It could be completely the wrong strategy which I believe only time will tell. I also think they are certainly decreasing their scale post-split as they have to separate the things, teams, costs, turmoil, customer relationships across each country.

 

It is to be seen how that strategy pans out in future as we have no problem competing with them and others in the market. We don’t tweak or modify our strategy by watching them or their GTM. But we rather spend more time listening to the customers to improve our value proposition as a solutions provider.

 

You sound optimistic on hardware business as a ‘PC to DC’ vendor compared to your competition.

 

It turns out that hardware business is very good business for us which is backed by world class supply chain. These are foundational businesses as we work with customer whether in banking, education, pharma, they still need a device to access the data and to create information. There are many devices people can use but we think computer is still an important one.

 

For example -  Dell India’s last quarter market share numbers of 39% in microprocessor based server, 48% in high end workstations and 35% share in notebooks (all being number one position) are the testimony of our dominance in the hardware business.

 

We earn the customer’s trust (after sale of device or PC) and then we can additionally provide other offerings including datacenter, storage, networking, security, cloud, data integration and other services.  The last thing we would do is to separate those businesses. If other company wants to go that route, that’s fine and it’s their outlook.

 

We are marching our own treaded path towards a success story.

 

Dell is still betting big on its ‘end-to-end stack’ story.

 

Absolutely. And in fact the customers repeatedly tell us that they like that value proposition. Dell last week won a major contract with another global company which included all -- commercial PCs, servers, storage, all sorts of software, financing, services.

 

Here’s an interesting scenario – When you go to CIO or CFO of a large organization as an IT provider or partner, would they like to have more or fewer of them? You would pretty clearly hear from most of them that they prefer fewer number of IT providers to deal with. Also they are not integrating themselves but we help stitch the solutions.

 

Interestingly we see many customers have this digital fear as they are focus on digitization of business. They want us to manage the infrastructure part and provide the offerings maybe as a services or pay per month or pay per user. The customers want us or our partners to take care of the whole thing including software, helpdesk, upgrades, virtualization etcetera. More and more enterprise customers are requesting us to manage that entire stack for them. 

 

The virtual client is completely integrated with datacenter, networking, software, security, services and other solutions. It can start from IoT to Cloud and there should be one company to support the entire infrastructure at the customer end. And we absolutely believe in the approach of  ‘end to end integrated’ solutions.

Comments | Posted in Industry News By James Richardson

$13.48 billion of servers shipped in the second quarter..

Monday, 7 September 2015 15:10:19 Europe/London

Custom Servers Cool, Custom Storage White Hot

 

supermicro-server-bw

 

If the server and storage markets are bellwethers for the underlying strength of the economy, as we at The Platformbelieve, then the global economy has been perhaps more healthy than other indicators might have been pointing to. There is always a several month lag in the shipment and sales data for servers and storage, so we won’t really have a sense of what is going on right now until the end of the autumn. But through the quarter ended in June, the markets looked pretty good, all things considered.

 

The analysts at IDC recently released their market trackers for servers and storage for the second quarter, and we like to look at them at the same time to get a sense of how these increasingly interconnected aspects of the systems space are doing. It is hard to tell a server from a storage array sometimes – you end up counting drive bays in the system, explains IDC storage analyst Eric Sheppard, and making the best estimations about if a machine is compute-intensive or storage-intensive when it sells.

 

On the compute side, IDC reckons that the world consumed $13.48 billion worth of servers in the second quarter, and increase of 6.1 percent compared to the year-ago period. Server shipments across all types and geographies rose by 3.2 percent to 2.29 million machines, more or less flat with the first quarter of the year.

 

idc-server-storage-q2-2015-server-revs

 

The top seller in the market for the past several years has been Hewlett-Packard, which substantially increased its lead over IBM once Big Blue sold off its System x business to Lenovo Group last fall. HP booked $3.43 billion in server sales in the second quarter, up 7.7 percent and growing faster than the market at large. Dell, now ranked number two, grew slightly slower than the overall market, with a 5.9 percent bump to $2.36 billion. Thanks to the uptake of its Cloudline servers aimed at hyperscalers and its Apollo machines aimed at HPC and enterprise customers, HP grew its density-optimized server business by 118.7 percent in the quarter, says IDC. ProLiant rack machines saw a 10.5 percent rise in revenues, and that means towers probably had soft sales. Dell’s blade server business – yes, enterprises and some HPC shops still buy blade servers – grew by 38.7 percent in Q2 and was that company’s bright spot in terms of growth.

idc-server-storage-q2-2015-server-vendors

 

IBM was the third largest revenue server seller in the quarter, with just under $2 billion in sales, and had a 32.9 percent revenue drop thanks mostly to the System x divestiture to Lenovo. But not all of that revenue went automatically over to Lenovo, which grew by a factor of 6.5X to $949.2 million for server sales in the second quarter. All of IBM’s competitors in the systems space seem to take a little piece out of the IBM-Lenovo deal. Cisco Systems is one of those beneficiaries, with sales up 19.3 percent to $866.7 million in the quarter. While the Unified Computing System platform has grown phenomenally in the past several years, its growth has been cooling and eventually – perhaps in a year or so – its growth will be closer to the market as a whole.

 

A very interesting part of this server market is the ODM Direct part, which IDC has been tracking for several years. In the quarter, those original design manufacturers who create and build systems on behalf of hyperscalers, cloud builders, and some enterprises, have outpaced the overall market and come to represent a large part of the shipments in many quarters. In Q2, ODM Direct vendors in the aggregate accounted for $942.6 million in revenues, up 12.9 percent and growing at more than twice the pace of the market at large. ODM server revenue growth cooled in the quarter, and frankly has been cooling for the past four quarters from a high of 44.1 percent growth in the third quarter of 2014 and has been wiggling around $1 billion per quarter in machines.

 

idc-server-storage-q2-2015-x86-others

 

The X86 server – by which is meant machines running Intel Xeon processors with a very minuscule portion of machines based on Opteron processors from AMD – continues to dominate the datacenter, accounting for 99.1 percent of shipments (2.27 million machines) and 80.1 percent of revenues ($10.8 billion) in the second quarter. Intel keeps trying to push down the price of compute because it believes that, according to Jevons Paradox, that making a commodity like compute even cheaper it can actually boost the amount of capacity it sells and thereby increase its revenues and profits. (We shall see in the laboratory of the real world precisely what the appetite for elastic capacity is. We remain skeptical that this can go on forever, even with burgeoning datasets and new use cases.)

 

IBM’s Power Systems machines found their footing in the second quarter with modest declines and the System z mainframe upgrade cycle continued, helping to buoy sales of non-X86 systems, which nonetheless had a 1.4 percent revenue decline. ARM-based servers are just a blip on the radar at this point, and while many are hopeful that ARM server chips can provide compelling value and advantages in the datacenter, this idea has not yet been put to the real test. The ramp could begin early next year, or fizzle out because the software has still not caught up to the hardware.

On the storage front, the ODM Direct vendors continue to be truly and dramatically disruptive, although sales of traditional external disk arrays are holding up better than many might think.

 

idc-server-storage-q2-2015-odm-storage

 

In the quarter, customers worldwide consumed 30.3 exabytes of storage systems, a 37 percent boost in capacity over the year-ago period, but revenues rose only 2.1 percent to $8.8 billion. The rise of server-based storage with open source object, file, and block storage is having the same effect on storage as the Linux revolution from the early 2000s had on servers.

 

IDC reckons that ODM Direct vendors creating minimalist, dense server-storage hybrids had 25.8 percent revenue growth in the quarter, to just over $1 billion in sales, but amazingly, these ODMs accounted for 13.3 exabytes of total capacity shipped. The ODMs had an 11.5 percent revenue share, but a 43.8 percent capacity share. This is the level that the ODMs have had, with some wiggling up and down, for the past year and a half. The cost of a terabyte of storage on a traditional array from EMC, IBM, HP, NetApp, and so forth has been falling from around $875 per TB in the first quarter of 2013 to around $459 per TB in the second quarter of 2015, but the price the ODMs are charging has been falling at about the same rate, from $119 per TB in Q1 2013 to $76 per TB in Q2 2015. That six-to-one price difference is driving the capacity sales for ODM gear, which is used to store the coolest data, generally in object formats.

 

Traditional external disk arrays accounted for $5.67 billion in revenues in the second quarter, down 3.9 percent. While this market is not going away, it is under extreme price pressure – particularly as more workloads are virtualized and server SANs from Nutanix, VMware, SimpliVity, and others are gaining traction and obviate the need for real SANs. IDC believes that server-based storage (from ODMs as well as from hyperconverged vendors like those mentioned above) accounted for $2.1 billion, up 10 percent.

 

September 4, 2015 

http://www.theplatform.net/2015/09/04/custom-server-sales-cool-custom-storage-white-hot/ 

Comments | Posted in Industry News By James Richardson

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