NetApp’s AFF A-Series all-flash array is no longer such a reliable money spinner

NetApp’s AFF A-Series, the world’s best selling all flash array, is less best selling than it used to be. In the third quarter ended September the product line generated $360.9m revenues, a massive fall from last year’s $430.9m.

And market conditions do not appear to be to blame, with global market Q3 all-flash array (AFA) revenues climbing 12 per cent year on year to $2.58bn.

The numbers were revealed in a mail to subscribers by Wells Fargo senior analyst Aaron Rakers and include IDC Storage Tracker numbers.

Rakers examines AFA product sales by Dell EMC, HPE, Pure Storage, IBM , Hitachi, Huawei and others. Dell EMC dominates with 33.4 per cent share – up from 31.8 per cent a year ago – and about twice that of second-placed NetApp. 

Dell EMC’s overall AFA sales rose 17.2 per cent from $735m to $861.2m on the back of good growth for all its products, especially PowerMax/VMAX AF and Unity.

NetApp’s market share declined from 21.3 per cent to 16.6 per cent. The EF-Series and all-flash FAS recorded small gains but these were not enough to offset the big AFF A-Series revenue fall and a small decline in SolidFire revenues.

Pure Storage revenues grew 15.4 per cent from $188.7m to $221.6m and market share rose from 11.7 per cent to 12.1 per cent, to overtake HPE. Pure Storage demonstrated strength through product breadth – but to a lesser extent than Dell EMC.

HPE has two AFA ranges and sales for the bigger line – 3PAR – fell over the year. The small rise in Nimble sales didn’t prevent an overall 1 per cent sales decline from $285.5m to $282.6m. Market share fell from 12.4 per cent to 11 per cent.

Rakers didn’t provide per-product numbers for IBM, Hitachi and Huawei. But Huawei AFA sales rose 122.9 per cent, doubling market share from 4.2 per cent in Q3 2018 to 8.4 per cent this year. This is almost equal to IBM’s 8.6 per cent share (up from last year’s 8.2 per cent). Hitachi also grew its share from last year’s 3.8 per cent to 4 per cent.

According to IDC total flash capacity shipped was about 3.2EB during 3Q19, up 40 per cent. All-flash capacity shipped accounted for about 13 per cent of total external storage capacity shipped in 3Q19, up from 9 per cent a year ago. 

To conclude, this a mixed bag for vendors, with NetApp and HPE looking lacklustre in comparison to Dell EMC. Pure, Hitachi, Huawei, and IBM had the satisfaction of growing their minor shares. Huawei’s success is particularly noteworthy, considering the Chinese company is locked out of the US market. It is becoming a formidable competitor in markets where it is active.