DCIG 2018-19 All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2018-19 All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide edition developed from its enterprise storage array body of research. This 64-page report presents a fresh snapshot of the dynamic all-flash array (AFA) marketplace. It evaluates and ranks thirty-two (32) enterprise class all-flash arrays that achieved rankings of Recommended or Excellent based on a comprehensive scoring of product featuresThese products come from seven (7) vendors including Dell EMCHitachi VantaraHPE, Huawei, NetAppPure Storage and Tegile.

graphical icon for the All-flash Array Buyer's Guide

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the all-flash array marketplace, the benefits organizations can expect to achieve, and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product.

The DCIG 2018-19 All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide helps businesses drive time and cost out of the all-flash array selection process by:

  • Describing key product considerations and important changes in the marketplace
  • Gathering normalized data about the features each product supports
  • Providing an objective, third-party evaluation of those features from an end-user perspective
  • Presenting product feature data in standardized one-page data sheets facilitates rapid feature-based comparisons

It is in this context that DCIG presents the DCIG 2018-19 All-Flash Array Buyer’s Guide. As prior DCIG Buyer’s Guides have done, it puts at the fingertips of enterprises a resource that can assist them in this important buying decision.

Access to this Buyer’s Guide edition is available through the following DCIG partner sites: TechTrove.




DCIG 2018-19 Enterprise General Purpose All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2018-19 Enterprise General Purpose All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide developed from its enterprise storage array body of research. This 72-page report presents a fresh snapshot of the dynamic all-flash array (AFA) marketplace. It evaluates and ranks thirty-eight (38) enterprise class all-flash arrays that achieved rankings of Recommended or Excellent. These products come from nine (9) vendors including Dell EMC, Hitachi Vantara, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Kaminario, NetApp, Pure Storage and Tegile.

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the enterprise all-flash storage array marketplace, the benefits organizations can expect to achieve, and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product.

The DCIG 2018-19 Enterprise General Purpose All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide helps businesses drive time and cost out of the all-flash array selection process by:

  • Describing key product considerations and important changes in the marketplace
  • Gathering normalized data about the features each product supports
  • Providing an objective, third-party evaluation of those features from an end-user perspective
  • Presenting product feature data in standardized one-page data sheets facilitates rapid feature-based comparisons

It is in this context that DCIG presents the DCIG 2018-19 Enterprise General Purpose All-Flash Array Buyer’s Guide. As prior DCIG Buyer’s Guides have done, it puts at the fingertips of enterprises a resource that can assist them in this important buying decision.

Access to this Buyer’s Guide is available through the following DCIG partner sites: TechTrove




Seven Significant Trends in the All-Flash Array Marketplace

Much has changed since DCIG published the DCIG 2017-18 All-Flash Array Buyer’s Guide just one year ago. The DCIG analyst team is in the final stages of preparing a fresh snapshot of the all-flash array (AFA) marketplace. As we reflected on the fresh all-flash array data and compared it to the data we collected just a year ago, we observed seven significant trends in the all-flash array marketplace that will influence buying decisions through 2019.

Trend #1: New Entrants, but Marketplace Consolidation Continues

Although new storage providers continue to enter the all-flash array marketplace—primarily focused on NVMe over Fabrics–the larger trend is continued consolidation. HPE acquired Nimble Storage. Western Digital acquired Tegile.

Every well-known provider has made at least one all-flash acquisition. Consequently, some providers are in the process of “rationalizing” their all-flash portfolios. For example, HPE has decided to position Nimble Storage AFAs as “secondary flash”. HPE also announced it will implement Nimble’s InfoSight predictive analytics platform across HPE’s entire portfolio of data center products, beginning with 3PAR StoreServ storage. Dell EMC seems to be positioning VMAX as its lead product for mission critical workloads, Unity for organizations that value simplified operations, XtremIO for VDI/test/dev, and SC for low cost capacity.

Nearly all the AFA providers also offer at least one hyperconverged infrastructure product. These hyperconverged products compete with AFAs for marketing and data center infrastructure budgets. This will create additional pressure on AFA providers and may drive further consolidation in the marketplace.

Trend #2: Flash Capacity is Increasing Dramatically

The raw capacity of the more than 100 all-flash arrays DCIG researched averaged 4.4 petabytes. This is a 5-fold increase compared to the products in the 2017-18 edition. The highest capacity product can provide 70 petabytes (PB) of all-flash capacity. This is a 7-fold increase. Thus, AFAs now offer the capacity required to be the storage resource for all active workloads in any organization.

graph of all-flash array capacity

Source: DCIG, n=102

Trend #3: Storage Density is Increasing Dramatically

The average AFA flash density of the products continues to climb. Fully half of the AFAs that DCIG researched achieve greater than 50 TB/RU. Some AFAs can provide over 200 TB/RU. The combination of all-flash performance and high storage density means that an AFA may be able to meet an organization’s performance and capacity requirements in 1/10th the space of legacy HDD storage systems and the first generation of all-flash arrays. This creates an opportunity for many organizations to realize significant data center cost reductions. Some have eliminated data centers. Others have been able to delay building new data centers.

graph of all-flash array storage density

Source: DCIG, n=102

Trend #4: Rapid Uptake in Components that Increase Performance

Increases in flash memory capacity and density are being matched with new components that increase array performance. These components include:

  • a new generation of multi-core CPUs from Intel
  • 32 Gb Fibre Channel and 25/40/100 Gb Ethernet
  • GPUs
  • ASICS to offload storage tasks
  • NVMe connectivity to SSDs.

Each of these components can unlock more of the performance available from flash memory. Organizations should assess how well these components are integrated to systemically unlock the performance of flash memory and of their own applications.

chart of front end connectivity percentages

Source: DCIG, n=102

Trend #5: Unified Storage is the New Normal

The first generations of all-flash arrays were nearly all block-only SAN arrays. Tegile was perhaps the only truly unified AFA provider. Today, more than half of all all-flash arrays DCIG researched support unified storage. This support for multiple concurrent protocols creates an opportunity to consolidate and accelerate more types of workloads.

Trend #6: Most AFAs can use Public Cloud Storage as a Target

Most AFAs can now use public cloud storage as a target for cold data or for snapshots as part of a data protection mechanism. In many cases this target is actually one of the provider’s own arrays running in a cloud data center or a software-defined storage instance of its stor­age system running in one of the true public clouds.

Trend #7: Predictive Analytics Get Real

Some storage providers can document how predictive stor­age analytics is enabling increased availability, reliability, and application performance. The promise is huge. Progress varies. Every prospective all-flash array purchaser should incorporate predictive analytics capabilities into their evaluation of these products, particularly if the organization intends to consolidate multiple workloads onto a single all-flash array.

Conclusion: All Active Workloads Belong on All-Flash Storage

Any organization that has yet to adopt an all-flash storage infrastructure for all active workloads is operating at a competitive disadvantage. The current generation of all-flash arrays create business value by…

  • making existing applications run faster even as data sets grow
  • accelerating application development
  • enabling IT departments to say, “Yes” to new workloads and then get those new workloads producing results in record time
  • driving down data center capital and operating costs

DCIG expects to finalize our analysis of all-flash arrays and present the resulting snapshot of this dynamic marketplace in a series of buyer’s guides during the second quarter of 2018.




Defensible Data is the Goal

Individuals occasionally reach out to DCIG and allege that certain data found in DCIG publications is, from their perspective, “incorrect.” While I appreciate the time and effort that individuals take to review data found in the various DCIG publications and provide feedback on it, viewing any data present in any analyst publication – be it from DCIG or otherwise – as either “right” or “wrong” is the larger premise that one should consider. While DCIG always does its best to follow established, internal processes to ensure that the data it publishes reflects the actual capabilities of the products it covers, DCIG’s broader objective is to publish defensible data.

DCIG is one of the few analyst firms that takes on the task of publishing competitive data. Whether DCIG evaluates multiple products from multiple vendors – such as it does in its Buyer’s Guides – or when it compares two products – such as it does in its Pocket Analyst Reports – these reports inevitably generate some differing opinions and even controversy.

Some of the disagreement stems from DCIG’s practice to rank products or call out when one product has an advantage over another. In the Buyer’s Guides, DCIG ranks products and opines as to whether a product ranks as Recommended, Excellent, or Good. In the Pocket Analyst Reports, DCIG compares two products and deems one vendor or product to have an advantage over the other in terms of a certain feature functionality. In both these publications, the rankings it establishes or the advantages that it declares should be viewed as subjective that reflects DCIG’s opinion – which we believe most people understand and perceive.

However, readers of the DCIG Buyer’s Guides or Pocket Analyst Reports sometimes take issue with the data that DCIG publishes about how individual products support specific features or capabilities.  When they see a check box next to a specific feature indicating support for it or a grey circle next to it indicating no support for it or that DCIG could not determine product support for that feature, they may know from their own experience that the feature should be checked as supported or displayed as unsupported. There is then a proclivity to discount the value of the publication because DCIG evaluated a feature in a way does not align with their experience or knowledge.

If you have had that experience, one should keep two principles in mind when evaluating the data DCIG publishes regarding support for product features:

  1. All data published represents DCIG’s opinion. DCIG does its best to ensure the accuracy of all data it publishes. It reviews product data sheets, administrator guides, user guides, and reaches out to vendors to solicit their input. However, there are any number of reasons the data we publish may not accurately reflect the product’s actual capabilities. The product admin or user guides may be incorrect or out of date. Incorrect feedback may have been provided. The data may have not been transcribed correctly at some point during the layout process. The product may have added (or removed) support for certain features. It is for these reasons and others that DCIG treats all data it publishes as its opinion and not as fact and readers of DCIG’s publications should do likewise.
  2. Vendors do not disclose all information about their products. This came as a surprise even to DCIG. It was our expectation that if a vendor supported a feature that they would want to share that information. Not true, as we have learned. Just because a product supports a feature does not mean that vendors necessarily want that information known publicly. This is due, in part, to the fact that enterprise environments are very complicated and the feature, while it is offered and supported by a product, may only work in certain environments under specific conditions. In those circumstances, vendors prefer not to publicly disclose that they support a feature since then their current and potential customers may hold them accountable for delivering on that feature in their environment.

It is for these reasons and others that DCIG’s goal in its publications is to publish defensible data. People may and likely will disagree with some of DCIG’s conclusions and observations, even those that such as feature support that organizations may view as more objective than subjective. However, DCIG has learned over the many years that it has published its Buyer’s Guides and Pocket Analyst Reports that all data on technology topics is more subjective than objective in nature that many may realize or even prefer and should be treated as such.




2018 Deduplication Backup Target Appliance Buyer’s Guide

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2018 Deduplication Backup Target Appliance Buyer’s Guide developed from the cloud data protection body of research. The DCIG 2018 Deduplication Backup Target Appliance Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-two (22) products from six (6) vendors. Using ranking categories of Recommended, Excellent, and Good this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly-informed decision as to which deduplication backup target appliance will suit their needs.

Each appliance included in the DCIG 2018 Deduplication Backup Target Appliance Buyer’s Guide had to meet the following criteria:

  • Product is available as a physical appliance
  • Product compresses and deduplicates data
  • Provider offers and supports the appliance
  • Sufficient information available to reach meaningful conclusions
  • Product generally available by October 1, 2017

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the deduplication backup target appliance marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using a deduplication backup target appliance and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a-glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by-side comparisons assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

Access this report is only available to individuals who pay to subscribe to the DCIG Competitive Intelligence Portal.  Subscribers also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by- side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.




The End Game for Cloud Data Protection Appliances is Recovery


The phrase “Cloud Data Protection Appliance” is included in the name of DCIG’s forthcoming Buyer’s Guide but the end game of each appliance covered in that Guide is squarely on recovery. While successful recoveries have theoretically always been the objective of backup appliances, vendors too often only paid lip service to that ideal as most of their new product features centered on providing better means for doing backups.  Recent technology advancements have flipped this premise on its head.

Multiple reasons exist as to why these appliances can focus more fully on this end game of recovery though five key ones have emerged in the last few years that have enabled it. These include:

  1. The low price point of using disk as a backup target (as opposed to tape)
  2. The general availability of private and public cloud providers
  3. The use of deduplication to optimize storage capacity
  4. The widespread availability of snapshot technologies on hypervisors, operating systems, and storage arrays
  5. The widespread enterprise adoption of hypervisors like VMware ESX, and Microsoft Hyper-V as well as the growing adoption of container technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes,

While there are other contributing technologies, these five more so than the others give these appliances new freedom to deliver on backup’s original promise: successful recoveries. By way of example:

  • The backup appliance is used for local application recoveries. Over 80 percent of the appliances that DCIG evaluated now support the instant recovery of an application on a virtual machine on the appliance. This frees enterprises to start the recovery of the application on the appliance itself before moving the application to its primary host. Enterprises can even opt to recover and run the application on the appliance for an extended time for test and development or to simply host the application until the production physical machine on which the application resides recovers.
  • Application conversions and migrations. All these appliances support the backup of virtual machines and their recovery as a virtual machine, but fully 88 percent of the software on these appliances support the backup of a physical machine and its recovery to a virtual machine. This feature gives enterprises access to a tool that can use to migrate applications from physical to virtual machines as a matter of course or in the event of disasters. Further, 77 percent of them support recovery of virtual machines to physical machines. While that may seem counter intuitive, not every application runs well on virtual machines or may need functionality only found when running on a physical machine.
  • Location of backup data. By storing data in the cloud (even if only using it as a cloud target,) enterprises know where their backup data is located. This is not trivial. Too many enterprises do not even know exactly what physical gear they have in their data center, much less where their data is located. While many enterprises still need to concern themselves with various international regulations governing the data’s physical location when storing data in the cloud, at least they know with which cloud provider they stored the data and how to access it. As anyone who uses or has used tape may recall, tracking down, lost tapes, misplaced tapes or even existing tapes can quickly become like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Even using disk is not without its challenges. Many enterprises may have to use multiple disk targets to store their backup data and trying to identify exactly which disk device holds what data may not be as simple as it sounds.
  • Recovering in the cloud. This end game of recovering in the cloud, whether it is recovering a single file, a single application, or an entire data center, may appeal to enterprises more so than any other option on these appliances. The ability to virtually create and have access to a secondary site from which they can recover data or even perform a disaster recovery and run one or more applications removes a dark cloud of unspoken worry that hangs over many enterprises today. The fact that they can use that recovery in the cloud as a stepping stone to potentially hosting applications or their entire data center in the cloud is an added benefit.

Enterprises should be very clear as to what opportunities that today’s cloud data protection appliances offer them. Near term they provide them a means to easily connect to one or more cloud providers, get their backup data offsite, and even recover their data or applications in the cloud. But the long term ramifications of using these appliances to store data in the cloud are much more significant. They represent the bridge to recovering and even potentially hosting more of their applications and data with one or more cloud providers. Organizations should therefore give this end game of recovery specific attention both when they choose a cloud data protection appliance and the cloud provider(s) to which the appliance connects.

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DCIG 2017-18 Hyperconverged Infrastructure Appliance Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2017-18 Hyperconverged Infrastructure Appliance Buyer’s Guide developed from the converged infrastructure body of research.

The DCIG 2017-18 Hyperconverged Infrastructure Appliance Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-four (24) products from five (5) vendors. Using ranking categories of Recommended and Excellent, this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly-informed decision as to which hyperconverged appliance will suit their needs.

Each appliance included in the DCIG 2017-18 Hyperconverged Infrastructure Appliance Buyer’s Guide had to meet the following criteria:

  • Must be available (orderable) as a single SKU and includes its own hardware and software
  • Must be marketed as a hyperconverged appliance
  • Must support at least one hypervisor (XEN, Hyper-V, VMware, KVM, etc)
  • Must provide compute and storage in the same infrastructure solution (i.e. the appliance can host multiple virtual machines and use local direct attached storage as the storage layer)
  • Must not require an external storage appliance (i.e. SAN/NAS)
  • Must cluster nodes together
  • Must support a centralized management and reporting structure
  • Must provide data protection features
  • There must be sufficient information available to DCIG to make meaningful decisions. DCIG makes a good faith effort to reach out and obtain information from as many storage providers as possible. However, products may be excluded because of a lack of sufficient reliable data
  • Must be formally announced and/or generally available for purchase as of April 28, 2017.

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the hyperconverged appliance marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using an hyperconverged appliance and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a-glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by-side comparisons assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

End users registering to access this report via the DCIG Competitive Intelligence Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by- side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.




DCIG 2017-18 Small/Midsize Enterprise All-Flash Array Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2017-18 Small/Midsize Enterprise All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide developed from the enterprise storage array body of research.

The DCIG 2017-18 Small/Midsize Enterprise All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-four (24) small/midsize enterprise-class all-flash arrays that achieved rankings of Recommended or Excellent. These products come from eleven (11) vendors including Dell EMC, Fujitsu, iXsystems, Kaminario, NEC, NetApp, Nimble Storage, Pivot3, Pure Storage, Tegile and Tintri. This Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly-informed decision as to which all-flash storage array will suit their needs.

Each array included in the DCIG 2017-18 Small/Midsize Enterprise All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide had to meet the following criteria:

  • Must be available as an appliance that is available as a single SKU and includes its own hardware and software.
  • Must be marketed as an all-flash array (AFA). The best evidence of meeting this criterion is the existence of a specific all-flash SKU.
  • Must use flash memory as primary storage, not merely as an extended cache.
  • May permit storage expansion with disk shelves that contain HDDs or the virtualization of external disk-based arrays—essentially converting the all-flash array into a hybrid storage array.
  • Must support one or more of the following storage networking protocols: iSCSI, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, NFS.
  • Provides features and capacities appropriate for small/midsize enterprises.
  • There must be sufficient information available to DCIG to make meaningful decisions. DCIG makes a good faith effort to reach out and obtain information from as many storage providers as possible. However, products may be excluded because of a lack of sufficient reliable data.
  • Must be formally announced and/or generally available for purchase as of February 28, 2017.

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the all-flash storage array marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using an all-flash storage array and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a-glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by-side comparisons assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

End users registering to access this report via the DCIG Competitive Intelligence Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by- side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.




DCIG 2017-18 All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2017-18 All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide developed from the enterprise storage array body of research.

The DCIG 2017-18 All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-five (25) products from twelve (12) different storage vendors. Using ranking categories of RecommendedExcellent and Good this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly-informed decision as to which all-flash storage array will suit their needs.

Each array included in the DCIG 2017-18 All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide had to meet the following criteria:

  • Must be available as an appliance that is available as a single SKU and includes its own hardware and software.
  • Must be marketed as an all-flash array (AFA). The best evidence of meeting this criterion is the existence of a specific all-flash SKU.
  • Must use flash memory as primary storage, not merely as an extended cache.
  • May permit storage expansion with disk shelves that contain HDDs or the virtualization of external disk-based arrays—essentially converting the all-flash array into a hybrid storage array.
  • Must support one or more of the following storage networking protocols: iSCSI, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, NFS.
  • There must be sufficient information available to DCIG to make meaningful decisions. DCIG makes a good faith effort to reach out and obtain information from as many storage providers as possible. However, products may be excluded because of a lack of sufficient reliable data.
  • Must be formally announced and/or generally available for purchase as of February 28, 2017.

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the all-flash storage array marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using an all-flash storage array and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a-glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by-side comparisons assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

End users registering to access this report via the DCIG Competitive Intelligence Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by-side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.




DCIG 2016-17 Small/Midsize Enterprise Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2016-17 Small/Midsize Enterprise Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide developed from DCIG’s backup appliance body of research.

Integrated backup appliances address enterprise data protection challenges by pre-integrating backup software with self-contained purpose-built backup appliances. Because Integrated backup appliances include backup software, they displace both legacy backup hardware and legacy backup software.

The DCIG 2016-17 Small/Midsize Enterprise Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-nine (29) products from seven (7) different providers. Using ranking categories of Recommended, Excellent and Good, this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly informed decision as to which integrated backup appliance will suit their needs.

Each backup appliance included in the DCIG 2016-17 Small/Midsize Enterprise Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide meets the following criteria:

  • Must be available as a physical appliance that includes backup and recovery software as a combined bundle under one SKU
  • Provides features and capacities appropriate for small/midsize enterprises
  • Must store backup data on the appliance via on premise DAS, NAS or SAN-attached storage
  • May connect to a public storage cloud
  • Sufficient information provided to reach meaningful conclusions
  • Must be formally announced or generally available for purchase on July 1, 2016

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the integrated backup appliance marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using an integrated backup appliance, and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a- glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by- side comparisons, assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

End users registering to access this report via the DCIG Analysis Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by-side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.




Feature Checklists and Other Hazards of Product Evaluations

The Buyer’s Guides that DCIG produces are some of the most referenced and relied upon documents in the technology industry for evaluating data protection and data storage products. However, as individuals and/or organizations evaluate these Buyer’s Guides, they need to remain circumspect in how they view and use the information contained them. Specifically, as they use these Buyer’s Guides to create product short list, they need to take steps to verify that the product features as shown as supported in these Guides work in the manner that they need for their environment.

Organizations typically leverage DCIG Buyer’s Guides in the following three ways and in this order:

1.     They look to them as a resource to get a listing of enterprise products.

2.     They look to the rankings to help identify the best products for a specific use case.

3.     They evaluate the product features to perform product comparisons.

It is as organizations get down to this final step of product comparisons and selections that confusion sometimes arises about how DCIG evaluates product as some assume that DCIG tests each product feature. This is not the case and has never been the case.

Granted, it is possible that the DCIG analyst evaluating a product has perchance worked on or tested one of its features at some point in the past. However, DCIG makes no guarantee nor implies that any feature of any product that it evaluates has ever been tested or that the feature even works.

Rather, the analyst relies upon the publicly available information and feedback from the provider to guide him or her in their conclusion about product support. In cases where the analyst cannot confirm feature support, they merely denote they could confirm support for the feature.

Even in cases where an analyst can find evidence that a product supports a specific feature, organizations much exercise some discretion in terms of how much weight that they ascribe to that support.

This topic came up in a conversation I had earlier this week. A storage vendor with which I spoke expressed some concerns about one of its competitors. He admitted that the arrays his company put out did not have the product bells and whistles that his competitor had.

That said, of the features that his company’s array did support, he did express a great deal of confidence that they would work as advertised. Conversely, he felt that his competitor only implemented product features at a minimal level to permit them to truthfully mark the product feature check box. The questions then became how well did they test these features and would they work when deployed in production environments. His experience was that vendors that implement features this way generally did not see these features perform well in production environments.

I share this story to provide everyone some guidance in how to best leverage the DCIG Buyer’s Guides and to understand the information contained in them.

On one hand, the DCIG Buyer’s Guides do what they do better than any other analyst publication in the industry, bar none. They aggregate publicly available information about enterprise products, synthesize it, and present it in a manner that buyers can quickly obtain to making a relatively informed product buying decision.

That said, these Buyer’s Guides do not absolve you of taking responsibility for knowing about either your own environment or verifying that the features on a product work sufficiently well to meet the needs of your environment. While DCIG generally finds that vendors are truthful about the capabilities of their products, we also find there are differences in how vendors define and implement support for their product features.

These subtleties in the robustness of product feature implementation are unfortunately very difficult to detect and communicate, especially at the scale at which DCIG produces its Buyer’s Guides. Further, distinguishing between these nuances in feature implementation goes beyond what DCIG seeks to accomplish in its Buyer’s Guides.

Rather, DCIG encourages you to do a deeper dive into any product features that are of concern to your organization or to engage DCIG for its analyst services to do deep dive into these features so you can verify the product provides the functionality that your company needs, will use, and can rely upon.




DCIG 2016-17 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the 2016-17 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide developed from DCIG’s backup appliance body of research.

Integrated backup appliances address enterprise data protection challenges by pre-integrating backup software with self-contained purpose-built backup appliances. Because Integrated backup appliances include backup software, they displace both legacy backup hardware and legacy backup software.

The DCIG 2016-17 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide ranks more than 100 features of thirty-three (33) products from ten (10) different providers. Using ranking categories of Recommended, Excellent and Good, this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly informed decision as to which integrated backup appliance will suit their needs.

Each backup appliance included in the DCIG 2016-17 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide meets the following criteria:

  • Must be available as a physical appliance that includes backup and recovery software as a combined bundle under one SKU
  • Must store backup data on the appliance via on premise DAS, NAS or SAN-attached storage
  • May connect to a public storage cloud
  • Sufficient information provided to reach meaningful conclusions
  • Must be formally announced or generally available for purchase on July 1, 2016

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the integrated backup appliance marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using an integrated backup appliance, and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a- glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by- side comparisons, assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

End users registering to access this report via the DCIG Analysis Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by-side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.




DCIG 2016-17 Midrange Unified Storage Array Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2016-17 Midrange Unified Storage Array Buyer’s Guide developed from the enterprise storage array body of research.

The DCIG 2016-17 Midrange Unified Storage Array Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-three (23) products from eight (8) different storage vendors. Using ranking categories of Best-in-Class, Recommended and Excellent, this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly informed decision as to which high end storage array will suit their needs.

Each array included in the DCIG 2016-17 Midrange Unified Storage Array Buyer’s Guide had to meet the following criteria:

  • Must be available as an appliance that includes its own hardware and software
  • Must support one or more block-based (SAN) storage protocols: Fibre Channel, FCoE, or iSCSI
  • Must support one or more file-based (NAS) storage protocols: CIFS/SMB or NFS protocols
  • Must support scaling to at least two controllers
  • Must be formally announced and/or generally available for purchase as of July 1, 2016

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the midrange unified storage array marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using a midrange unified storage array and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a-glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by-side comparisons assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

End users registering to access this report via the DCIG Analysis Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by-side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.




DCIG 2016-17 High End Storage Array Buyers Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2016-17 High End Storage Array Buyer’s Guide developed from the enterprise storage array body of research. Other Buyer’s Guide Editions based on this body of research will be published in the coming weeks and months, including the 2016-17 Midrange Unified Storage Array Buyer’s Guide.

The DCIG 2016-17 High End Storage Array Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of fifteen (15) products from seven (7) different storage vendors. Using ranking categories of Best-in-Class, Recommended and Excellent, this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly informed decision as to which high end storage array will suit their needs.

Each array included in the DCIG 2016-17 High End Storage Array Buyer’s Guide had to meet the following criteria:
• Be identified by the vendor as a high end storage array
• Support multiple controllers in an Active-Active configuration
• Be intended for the storage of production data (as opposed to archive or backup data)
• Provide synchronous replication for non-disruptive operations across two or more physical locations
• Have the ability to either scale-out or scale-up to at least 3 PB of raw capacity
• Provide sufficient information for DCIG to draw a meaningful conclusion
• Must be formally announced and/or generally available for purchase as of September 1, 2016

DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the high end storage array marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using a high end storage array and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a-glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by-side comparisons assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

End users registering to access this report via the DCIG Analysis Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by-side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.




DCIG 2016-17 Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the 2016-17 Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide developed from the backup appliance body of research. Other Buyer’s Guides based on this body of research include the recent DCIG 2016-17 Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide and the forthcoming 2016-17 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide.

As core business processes become digitized, the ability to keep services online and to rapidly recover from any service interruption becomes a critical need. Given the growth and maturation of cloud services, many organizations are exploring the advantages of storing application data with cloud providers and even recovering applications in the cloud.

Hybrid cloud backup appliances (HCBA) are deduplicating backup appliances that include pre-integrated data protection software and integration with at least one cloud-based storage provider. An HCBA’s ability to replicate backups to the cloud supports disaster recovery needs and provides essentially infinite storage capacity.

The DCIG 2016-17 Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-three (23) products from six (6) different providers. Using ranking categories of Recommended, Excellent and Good, this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly informed decision as to which hybrid cloud backup appliance will suit their needs.

Each backup appliance included in the DCIG 2016-17 Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide meets the following criteria:

  • Be available as a physical appliance
  • May also ship as a virtual appliance
  • Includes backup and recovery software that enables seamless integration into an existing infrastructure
  • Stores backup data on the appliance via on premise DAS, NAS or SAN-attached storage
  • Enables connectivity with at least one cloud-based storage provider for remote backups and long-term retention of backups in a secure/encrypted fashion
  • Provides the ability to connect the cloud-based backup images on more than one geographically dispersed appliance
  • Be formally announced or generally available for purchase on July 1, 2016

It is within this context that DCIG introduces the DCIG 2016-17 Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide. DCIG’s succinct analysis provides insight into the state of the hybrid cloud backup appliance marketplace. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the specific benefits organizations can expect to achieve using a hybrid cloud backup appliance, and key features organizations should be aware of as they evaluate products. It also provides brief observations about the distinctive features of each product. Ranking tables enable organizations to get an “at-a- glance” overview of the products; while DCIG’s standardized one-page data sheets facilitate side-by- side comparisons, assisting organizations to quickly create a short list of products that may meet their requirements.

End users registering to access this report via the DCIG Analysis Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by-side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.

By using the DCIG Analysis Portal and applying the hybrid cloud backup appliance criteria to the backup appliance body of research, DCIG analysts were able to quickly create a short list of products that meet these requirements which was then, in turn, used to create this Buyer’s Guide Edition. DCIG plans to use this same process to create future Buyer’s Guide Editions that further examine the backup appliance marketplace.

Additional information about each buyer’s guide edition, including a download link, is available on the DCIG Buyer’s Guides page.




Data Visualization, Recovery, and Simplicity of Management Emerging as Differentiating Features on Integrated Backup Appliances

Enterprises now demand higher levels of automation, integration, simplicity, and scalability from every component deployed into their IT infrastructure and the integrated backup appliances found in the DCIG’s forthcoming Buyer’s Guide Editions that cover integrated backup appliances are a clear output of those expectations. Intended for organizations that want to protect applications and data and then keep it behind corporate fire walls, these backup appliances come fully equipped from both hardware and software perspectives to do so.

Once largely assembled and configured by either IT staff or value added resellers (VARs), integrated backup appliances have gone mainstream and are available for use in almost any size organization. By bundling together both hardware and software, large enterprises get the turnkey backup appliance solution that was just a few years ago primary reserved for smaller organizations. In so doing, large enterprises can eliminate the need to spend days, weeks, or even months they previously had to spend configuring and deploying these solutions into their infrastructure.

The evidence of the demand for backup appliances at all levels of the enterprise is made plain by the providers who bring them to market. Once the domain of providers such as STORServer and Unitrends, “software only” companies such as Commvault and Veritas have responded to the demand for turnkey backup appliance solutions with both now offering their own backup appliances under their respective brand names.

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Commvault Backup Appliance

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Veritas NetBackup Appliance

In so doing, any size organization may get any of the most feature rich enterprise backup software solutions on the market, whether it is IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (STORServer), Commvault (Commvault and STORServer), Unitrends or Veritas NetBackup, delivered to them as a backup appliance. Yet while traditional all-software providers have entered the backup appliance market,  behind the scenes new business demands are driving further changes on backup appliances that organizations should consider as they contemplate future backup appliance acquisitions.

  • First, organizations expect successful recoveries. A few years ago, the concept of all backup jobs completing successfully was enough to keep everyone happy and giving high-fives to one another. No more. organizations recognize that they have reliable backups residing on a backup appliance and these appliances may largely sit idle during off-backup hours. This gives the enterprise some freedom to do more with these backup appliances during these periods of time such as testing recoveries, recovering applications on the appliance itself, or even presenting these backup copies of data to other applications to use as sources for internal testing and development. DCIG found that a large number of backup appliances support one or more vCenter Instant Recovery features and the emerging crop of backup appliances can also host virtual machines and recover applications on them.
  • Second, organizations want greater visibility into their data to justify business decisions. The amount of data residing in enterprise backup repositories is staggering. Yet the lack of value that organizations derive from that stored data combined with the potential risk it presents to them by retaining it is equally staggering. Features that provide greater visibility into the metadata of these backups which then analyze it and help turn it into measurable value for the business are already starting to find their way onto these appliances. Expect these features to become more prevalent in the years to come.
  • Third, enterprises want backup appliances to expand their value proposition. Backup appliances are already easy to deploy but maintaining and upgrading them over time or deploying them for other use cases gets more complicated over time. To address these concerns, emerging providers such as Cohesity, which is making its first appearance in DCIG Buyer’s Guides as an integrated backup appliance, directly addresses these concerns. Available as a scale-out backup appliance that can function as a hybrid cloud backup appliance, a deduplicating backup appliance and/or as an integrated backup appliance, it provides an example of how an enterprises can more easily scale and maintain it over time while giving them the flexibility to use it internally in multiple different ways.

The forthcoming DCIG 2016-17 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Editions highlight the most robust and feature rich integrated backup appliances available on the market today. As such, organizations should consider these backup appliances covered in these Buyer’s Guides as having many of the features they need to protect both their physical and virtual environments. Further, a number of these appliances give them early access to the set of features that will position them to meet their next set of recovery challenge,s satisfy rising expectations for visibility into their corporate data, and simplify their ongoing management so they may derive additional value from it.




DCIG 2016-17 Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Editions Now Available

DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of the following DCIG 2016-17 Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Editions developed from the backup appliance body of research. Other Buyer’s Guide Editions based on this body of research will be published in the coming weeks and months, including the 2016-17 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide and 2016-17 Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Editions.

Buyer’s Guide Editions being released on September 20, 2016:

  • DCIG 2016-17 Sub-$100K Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guid
  • DCIG 2016-17 Sub-$75K Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide
  • DCIG 2016-17 Sub-$50K Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide
  • DCIG 2016-17 US Enterprise Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide

DCIG 2016-17 Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Edition had to meet the following criteria:

  • Be intended for the deduplication of backup data, primarily target-based deduplication
  • Includes an NAS (network attached storage) interface
  • Supports CIFS (Common Internet File System) or NFS (Network File System) protocols
  • Supports a minimum of two (2) hard disk drives and/or a minimum raw capacity of eight terabytes
  • Be formally announced or generally available for purchase on July 1, 2016

The various Deduplicating Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Editions are based on at least one additional criterion, whether list price (Sub-$100K, Sub-$75K and Sub-$50K) or being from a US-based provider.

By using the DCIG Analysis Portal and applying these criteria to its body of research into backup appliances, DCIG analysts were able to quickly create a short list of products that meet these requirements which was then, in turn, used to create Buyer’s Guide Editions to publish and release. DCIG plans to use this same process to create future Buyer’s Guide Editions that examine hybrid cloud and integrated backup appliances among others.

End users registering to access any of these reports via the DCIG Analysis Portal also gain access to the DCIG Interactive Buyer’s Guide (IBG). The IBG enables organizations take the next step in the product selection process by generating custom reports, including comprehensive side-by- side feature comparisons of the products in which the organization is most interested.

Additional information about each buyer’s guide edition, including a download link, is available on the DCIG Buyer’s Guides page.




Separate Myth from Reality Using the DCIG Competitive Research Services

Anyone who has ever to make a product choice that involves tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars knows that one of the more challenging aspects at the conclusion of the process is separating product fact from fiction. Often, the closer an organization gets to finalizing its buying decision, the more aggressive the competing vendors become in spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to discredit the products and/or services of the other vendors. Using DCIG’s Competitive Research services, organizations may gain access to the critical data that they need to help separate myth from reality to reach a proper conclusion.

myth-reality

On the surface, one might assume that choosing a specific product based on its technical merits would be a fairly straightforward process. One merely needs to:

  1. Gather the data sheets from the respective products being considered
  2. Evaluate the product features
  3. Compare them to your specific requirements
  4. Select the product that most closely aligns with your organization’s technical and budgetary requirements.

Sounds simple, right?

While this process might hold true for products that cost a few thousand dollars, as soon as the price tag climbs into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and certainly into the millions of dollars, everything comes into question. Each supported product feature comes under intense scrutiny as the competing vendors may call into question:

  • How well a competitor’s product feature works
  • How robust the feature is
  • Under what conditions the feature may work or not work

This questions and concerns can leave organizations questioning the reliability of their data and how to best proceed to distinguish myth from reality.

DCIG’s new Competitive Research offering addresses this common problem that organizations face. DCIG already gathers and presents much of the base line information that organizations need to do an initial product assessment in the Buyer’s Guides that DCIG publishes. However, the DCIG Competitive Research complements these Buyer’s Guides by providing organizations with the in-depth, technical, and more subjective information and commentary that they need to help them separate myth from reality.

Using the DCIG Competitive Research services, any organization may engage with DCIG analysts to assist them in creating internal reports that separate fact from fiction. The reference sheets list the specific features from each product that may have been called into question by competitors along with commentary from DCIG. For example, DCIG commentary may confirm the accuracy of these allegations and/or provide counter points to help organizations feel confident about the accuracy of the data which they may need to make a decision.

DCIG works on your behalf to establish the veracity of these competitive claims so when you make a product decision, you have the most appropriate information at your fingertips. DCIG delivers its findings to your company under non-disclosure to provide your organization with the data it needs to make the best possible decision by equipping it to sort reality from myth.

If you are ready to start making better, more informed buying decisions when you can rely upon a third party to help you sort reality from myth when making buying decisions, feel free to reach out to DCIG at sales@www.dcig.com. All DCIG reports are prepared quickly and delivered in a timely manner and include the specific information that your organization needs to make an informed decision based on the most up to date information available as opposed to relying upon myths that are too easily disseminated in the market place.




Enterprise Storage Body of Research Now Available through DCIG Analysis Portal

Organizations often struggle to match the availability, budgetary, capacity, and performance needs of their applications and data to the enterprise storage array that best aligns with their needs. Even assuming an organization takes time to document their internal business and technical requirements, they lack any efficient, effective means to translate this information into an informed, educated decision as to which storage array best meets their requirements.

To help organizations evaluate available enterprise storage arrays and make informed decisions about the most appropriate array for their needs, DCIG is pleased to announce the availability of its body of research into enterprise storage arrays. DCIG’s body of research into enterprise storage arrays, presented and made available through its Analysis Portal, directly addresses this specific challenge that organizations routinely encounter when buying storage arrays.

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The DCIG body of research into enterprise storage arrays provides detailed information on over 100 enterprise storage arrays from dozens of storage array providers including, but not limited to:

  • AMI StorTrends
  • Dell Technologies
  • Fujitsu
  • HDS
  • HPE
  • IBM
  • iXsystems
  • NEC
  • NetApp
  • Nexsan
  • Pivot3
  • Tegile

The DCIG enterprise storage array body of research includes detailed hardware and software product information on multiple models (where applicable) from each of these providers. All the information in this body of research is based upon publicly available data, data provided to DCIG by the vendor, and/or the personal knowledge of the DCIG analysts that collected and evaluated the data.

Using the DCIG Analysis Portal, users may self-select the features that match their requirements. The result of these selections is a short list of products that match their particular requirements. Organizations may even further refine this short list by removing weightings for any hardware or software features that they may not need in their environment in order to arrive at an even shorter list that closely matches their environment.

Other tools available through the DCIG Analysis Portal enable an organization to quickly produce comprehensive side-by-side feature comparisons of the products on their short lists. DCIG Analysis Portal users also have access to DCIG analysis of various market segments by downloading DCIG’s published Buyer’s Guides.

The availability of DCIG’s body of research into enterprise storage arrays, coupled with the ability to quickly self-select the features that are ‘must-haves’ in an organization’s environment, changes the dynamic of how organizations can make these important buying decisions. Organizations now have better, more comprehensive, and more objective information at their fingertips than the vendors with whom they routinely engage. This puts organizations in a better position to make an informed product selection and provides a solid foundation for negotiating product purchases.

DCIG analysts use the capabilities of the DCIG Analysis Portal to produce multiple Buyer’s Guide Editions from a single body of research. The recently released DCIG 2016-17 Midmarket Enterprise Storage Array Buyer’s Guide is based on the enterprise storage array body of research. Each array included in this Buyer’s Guide had to meet the following criteria:

  • Must support one or more block-based (SAN) storage protocols
  • Maximum raw capacity of no more than 500 TB

By using the DCIG Analysis Portal and applying these two criteria to its body of research into enterprise storage arrays, DCIG analysts were able to quickly create a short list of products that meet these requirements which was then, in turn, used to create a Buyer’s Guide Edition to publish and release. DCIG plans to use this same process to create future Buyer’s Guide Editions that examine high end and midrange unified storage arrays, among others.

DCIG’s body of research into enterprise storage arrays is available immediately to subscribing users of the DCIG Analysis Portal at https://portal.dcig.com. End users new to the DCIG Analysis Portal may register using this link. Technology manufacturers and resellers will need to pay a fee to access the assets available though the DCIG Analysis Portal. Please contact DCIG at sales@www.dcig.com or call 844.324.4552 (844.DCIGLLC) to subscribe.




DCIG Refocuses its Methodology to Deliver Targeted Buyer’s Guide Editions to Better Meet the Needs of Organizations

Each Buyer’s Guide Edition released by DCIG generates a tremendous amount of interest in the technology industry as a whole.  However, as people consider each Buyer’s Guide Edition that DCIG puts out, many make the assumption that DCIG seeks to make each Guide Edition “all-inclusive.” This is a mistaken assumption which leads some to claim or position themselves as “in the know”, jumping to misleading and erroneous conclusions.

Over the course of the last year DCIG has refined its methodology for researching, preparing, and releasing its Buyer’s Guides to even more closely align with real world end user needs. When DCIG initially started preparing and releasing Buyer’s Guides focused on enterprise storage arrays a number of years ago, DCIG would research all of the products that met the definition of enterprise storage arrays and then produce just one or two Buyer’s Guides based on that research.

The challenge with this approach is that different storage arrays were intended to meet different user requirements. Creating a single Buyer’s Guide that included all of the products that DCIG researched, and then ranking them on the basis of a single use case, necessarily resulted in certain products receiving rankings that were viewed as “inferior” even though these products may have been fine for their intended use.

This was never DCIG’s intent. Breaking these products into multiple rankings was merely a tool to help DCIG and end users to distinguish between those products with the most comprehensive feature sets and most robust hardware resources as they pertain to a particular use case verses those with more limited feature sets and hardware resources. Indeed, many of DCIG’s Buyer’s Guides have included statements like the following…

“It is also important for users to note that just because a product scored the highest in a particular category or is ranked a certain way does not automatically mean that it is the right product for their organization. If anything, because of the scope of the models evalu­ated and analyzed, it may have features that are too robust for the needs of an individual department or organization.”

In spite of such disclaimers, some individuals came away with the impression that lower ranked products were automatically inadequate or inappropriate for their intended purpose.

To address these issues and correct this perception, DCIG recently adopted a body of research approach. This body of research method encompasses as many products in a particular focus area as DCIG can reasonably and reliably research. Once DCIG completes a body of research, rather than publishing all of the data about all of the products in a single guide, DCIG analysts use the DCIG Analysis Portal (which is accessible to anyone, vendor or end user) to create different views into the raw data based upon particular inclusion and exclusion criteria. These criteria are defined by DCIG in accordance with the use case for a particular Buyer’s Guide Edition.

Applying various inclusion/exclusion criteria to a body of research, DCIG can create multiple different Buyer’s Guide Editions that better align with real world markets and buying decisions. Further, DCIG discloses all of these criteria in both the blog entry announcing each Buyer’s Guide Edition and the text of the Buyer’s Guide Edition itself. Every DCIG Buyer’s Guide includes a section labelled “Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria” that discloses the criteria and the rationale that was used to determine them. In the case of the just released DCIG 2016-17 Midmarket Enterprise Storage Array, the inclusion/exclusion criteria for arrays included limiting the Buyer’s Guide to storage arrays that scale to no more than 500TB of raw capacity.

Due to these constraints associated with each Buyer’s Guide Edition that it produces, DCIG also includes language in each of its Buyer’s Guides that “one should not draw any negative inferences for any product or vendor not included in a particular Buyer’s Guide Edition and doing so represents a misuse of the Buyer’s Guide.” This language helps to protect the reputations of those products or vendors not included in a particular Buyer’s Guide Edition.

Taking this approach and using this language gives DCIG new freedom to focus exclusively on those products and vendors that best match a specific use case. It also helps end-users to quickly focus on the products most appropriate for their environment. In the case of the DCIG 2016-17 Midmarket Enterprise Storage Array Buyer’s Guide, DCIG can confidently highlight why Tegile’s products do truly stand out and which DCIG ranks as “Recommended” in environments where organizations need hybrid storage arrays that scale to less than 500TB (which DCIG believes to be a huge market segment.)

The evolution of DCIG’s methodology in the production of its Buyer’s Guides reflects a maturing of DCIG’s processes and understanding of how individuals use DCIG Buyer’s Guides. But perhaps more importantly, DCIG takes advantage of technologies that it now has at its fingertips to explore and visualize the data it has collected. DCIG’s decision to include in its Buyer’s Guides only products that are a good fit with the criteria for that Buyer’s Guide protects products from being unnecessarily and inappropriately called out simply because their technology may not fit a certain use case and the related inclusion/exclusion criteria.

DCIG believes this application of Big Data techniques to the analysis and presentation of its bodies of research puts DCIG at the forefront of where analyst firms can and should be going.  Moreover, DCIG makes the data it has collected–along with all of the software tools necessary to draw these conclusions–available to individuals in any organization so that they may apply their own criteria and draw their own conclusions based on what is most important in their environment.

Some analysts and the media may find it entertaining and provocative to argue brand names and motives; perhaps to drive page views on their websites. DCIG differs in that it has always endeavored to solve the real world, day-to-day challenges that end users with limited time and resources face by giving them access and insight into the technical feature data they need to make better-informed technology buying decisions, faster.

Note: Minor edits were made to this blog post at 10:00 am on August 9, 2016, to add some links and update some language.
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