Infinidat: We own the high-end storage array market

Infinidat claims it has a 60 per cent plus share of multi-petabyte storage array shipments. But we have only its word to go on.

Brian Carmody, Infinidat CTO, argues that his company operates in a separate multi-PB market sector. while all-flash array shippers such as HPE, IBM, NetApp and Pure, are shipping multi-TB arrays.

“We see a smart division of the storage market emerging, where great companies like Pure and NetApp are kicking ass in the TB-scale market, and Infinidat is dominating the Petabyte plus market,” he said.

It would be helpful to see independent statistics from IDC or Gartner to validate the idea that there are separate TB-level and PB-level array market sectors, and also to show how the other big array iron vendors are doing.

But we infer that Infinidat is comparing itself with Dell EMC (PowerMAX), Hitachi-Vantara (USP), HPE, and IBM (DS8000) which are available in  hybrid flash+disk and all-flash configurations. It also sees itself competing with high-end arrays from NetApp.

You got to pick a petabyte or two

Infinidat says some 74 per cent of its shipped systems are a petabye or more in size and we have seen a chart of Infinidat shipped systems showing their system capacity:

In an email interview Carmody said that “74 per cent of InfiniBoxes are >1PB, our average customer has 7.3PB of InfiniBox, and our largest have over 100 PB.”

“Right now,” he claimed, “Infinidat is focused on consolidating our lead in the Multi-PB enterprise market space. Our footprint is growing exponentially: We’ve shipped 1.7 Exabytes of capacity in the past year; that is [an] over 60 per cent share of global multi-PB market capacity.”

If Infinidat has shipped 1.7EB of capacity in the last 12 months and the average array size is 7.3PB then it likely shipped around 233 arrays in the period.

Array vendors do not typically release statistics about the capacities of their shipped arrays – unless it suits them. It suits Infinidat. Its marketing message is that it ships high-end, disk-based, monolithic arrays with bulk storage capacities that match the performance of all-flash arrays.

Infinidat says the percentage of its systems greater than a PB in size rose in the second quarter of 2018 to 84 per cent. The median customer had a near-4PB array, the average one 7.3PB of capacity, and its largest customer has a 100PB system.

A 2018 Gartner Critical Capabilities report for general purpose drive arrays points out; “Customers often purchase fewer large multi-petabyte InfiniBox arrays rather than many smaller InfiniBox arrays, and this is a good indicator of Infinidat concentrating its sales in the high-end market segment.”

Give that petabyte arrays

We have been given here a partial and self-serving insight by Infinidat into shipped big array data. But we note the company boasts that its customers are more likely to recommend it than Dell-EMC or NetApp customers, citing Gartner Peer Insight customer satisfaction ratings:

Our thinking is that the other legacy big array suppliers are hurting and will have to refresh their product and cut prices.

Infinidat founder

Infinidat is Moshe Yanai’s latest attempt to disrupt the storage industry, after his previous attempts with Symmetrix for EMC, XIV and Diligent. He is a genius storage array architect and engineer who designed EMC’s original Symmentrix drive array, after joining EMC in 1987. This took on and IBM’s then dominated drive arrays and beat them, with Yanai driving Symmetrix development to extend its momentum.

Moshe Yanai

By 1995 it represented 41 per cent of disk terabytes for mainframes with IBM’s own arrays accounting for 35 per cent.

Eventually he clashed with senior EMC business management and resigned in 2001. He started up the XIV array business in 2002, which prospered and was bought by IBM in 2008. He was also involved with the Diligent deduplicating arrays which were also bought by IBM.

Yanai became an IBM Fellow but left Big Blue in 2010 and founded Infinidat in 2011, recruiting many ex-XIV staff. Product was first shipped in 2015.  Yanai says Infinidat broke storage array footprint growth records with more than 1.4 EB deployed in three years.

He has been given many honours, is a billionaire and is probably the most inventive and disruptive visionary in the entire storage industry.