EMC’s XtremIO is crapping on the badge; it’s an immature ball of destruction that shows how much architecture matters. Or so my favorite storage bloggers say. But customers and resellers seem to have a different take on the destructive XtremIO 3.0 update: They don’t care. Not at all.
Although the numbers haven’t been released officially, I’m hearing very, very strong sales for XtremIO both before and after the hubbub about the XIOS 3.0 upgrade. How is it that such a flawed product can still be selling so well?
XtremIO Outsells All Flash
First, let’s get one thing straight: There is no all-flash array market, despite what Gartner’s Magic Quadrant ™ tells you. XtremIO plays in the high-performance primary SAN array market alongside notables like Nimble Storage, Pure Storage, HDS USP, HP 3PAR, and EMC’s own Symmetrix VMAX. It’s not an “extreme-performance” array, nor is it particularly inexpensive or scalable. Until this update it was significantly lacking in features, but customers didn’t seem to care.
XtremIO is a pretty good product backed by the best sales force in the storage industry. It’s been aggressively pushed to customers and they’re eating it up. No doubt they’ve bought into the promise of predictable performance and believe that EMC will support and enhance the product. So they’re willing to buy what is in truth (if not numerically) a 1.0 product.
This is why it’s not shocking that XtremIO has apparently racked up twice as many sales this year than every other “all-flash” array combined. You read that right: XtremIO has outsold the entire alleged all-flash array market by a wide margin. This just proves that “all-flash” isn’t a market. It’s just another storage array, people!
But what about all the Sturm und Drang about data destruction? That news apparently reached the ears of resellers and support staff way back in May at EMC World. Although many of the techies are said to have been concerned by it, sales continued apace. Customers haven’t deployed XtremIO in production “raw”: They’re either still testing it or deploying a few behind a VPLEX or other virtualization product and performing a rolling upgrade to get all the XIOS 3.0 goodies.
Far from tarnishing the badge, XtremIO has given EMC an up-to-date product that competes well with the upstarts. And in a conservative world like enterprise storage, that matters a lot more than a disappointingly destructive upgrade process. I expect to hear EMC trumpeting this sales success like crazy once the numbers are in.
It’s somewhat disappointing that customers don’t care more about smooth upgrades. But who can blame them? Storage isn’t sold on technical merits alone, and EMC has always been the king of the sell. The real story isn’t this destructive upgrade; it’s the fact that XtremIO is rapidly eating into Symmetrix VMAX sales! Far from being a failed product, XtremIO is EMC’s future hope in the high-end SAN array market!
Disclaimer: Let’s get this out of the way from the start: I’m no EMC sycophant. Not by a long shot. But I call ’em how I see ’em. Every company mentioned here (apart from HDS) has sponsored my Tech Field Day event so I don’t think I’m biased financially. EMC gave me their EMC Elect thing this year and flew me to London for a big launch event, so take that for what it’s worth. One more thing: I have no NDA and no official inside information about any of these products or sales numbers.