26 suppliers pinned to the File Storage Map. Who is in front?

Coldago Research has published a File Storage Map of 26 suppliers that ranks IBM, Dell EMC, NetApp, DDN and Qumulo – in that order – as the leaders.

Pure Storage, Qumulo, VAST Data and WekaIO are placed in a Blitzscaling group of fast-growing companies. (Blitzscaling was coined by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman to denote companies that can dominate their market place and grow extremely fast. He cites Amazon, LinkedIn and Paypal – which he also co-founded – as examples.)

Coldago is a relatively little-known analyst firm and its output stands up well against prominent research firms such as Gartner and Forrester.

Coldago identifies several trends affecting file storage; converging HPC and enterprise use cases, a blurring boundary between file and object storage, the rise of parallel access to boost speed, and the adoption of NVMe flash and NVMe-oF to accelerate file access.

The research firm also sees file storage systems adding a data services layer to handle functions such as data protection, tiering, reduction and multi-cloud options.

Coldago analyst Philippe Nicolas told Blocks & Files by mail that the purpose of the research was to “consider players with HPC and Enterprise shared file storage covering clustered, scale-out and distributed approaches.”

This means small and medium business and single server products are not included. Hardware, software, proprietary and open source file storage vendors are included in Coldago’s survey.

Nicolas told us suppliers are judged by the company’s situation, business and strategy, product and technology. In the situation area Coldago looks at the vendor’s “management, background and founding team, track record, successes and failures, years of existence, geo presence, number of employees, VC status and visibility.”

There are many criteria in the other three areas, too many to list here. The resulting information is sorted, weighted and run through algorithms to produce a ranking index. 

Coldago positions and ranks file storage vendors in a new take on the 4-box diagram, using four columns instead of squares: 

Coldago File Storage Map. The greyed-out vendors have recently been acquired.

The Coldago map columns are labelled Leaders, Challengers, Specialists and Niche. They correspond well to the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) categories: Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries and Niche Players.

The two axes are Execution and Capabilities on the vertical axis and Vision and Strategy on the horizontal one. They correspond well to the MQ axes; ability to execute and completeness of vision.

Leader vendors have a global presence, large installed base, strong technology directions, market vision and business strategy. The Challengers are companies with smaller capabilities in each area and ability to execute them. Specialists have good products in specific areas and limited market adoption. The Niche suppliers have lower market adoption still and restricted skills, vision, resources and execution capabilities.

Coldago comparisons

Technology research houses with their own versions of the classic 4-box or sector diagram include the Forrester Wave, Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) and IDC Marketscape.

Four types of 4-box/sector diagrams. Clockwise from top left; Gartner MQ, Forrester Wave, Coldago columns and IDC Marketscape.

The obvious Coldago file map comparision is with Gartner’s file and object storage MQ. This looks at nine specific file storage vendors; Dell EMC, DDN, Hitachi Vantara, Huawei, Inspur, NetApp, Pure Storage, Qumulo and SuSE.

Coldago adds another 17, most notably Microsoft and HPE,  and has its own metrics and ranking algorithm. The rankings are notably different from Gartner’s file and object MQ, which, for example, identifies Dell EMC, IBM and Qumulo as its three file storage leaders.


Coldago’s File Storage Map covers 26 vendors in its 24 pages and looks at HPC and enterprise file storage vendors and their products from technology and architecture viewpoints. No other report that we know of covers this ground.