EMC results: Storage arrays falter as VMware marches on

EMC results show hardware revenues’ relative decline as storage rivals and alternative approaches emerge

EMC's first-quarter financial results, reported this week, show a 2.4% year-on-year revenue increase to $5.6bn. Notable in those results is a decline in the contribution of traditional storage hardware and the continuing relative success of VMware and other divisions outside of EMC’s core array business.

The Massachusetts-based giant’s division that includes storage hardware – Information Infrastructure – posted a 0.7% fall in revenue to $4.049bn.

Elsewhere, however, VMware saw its revenue increase to $1.3bn, equating to growth of 11.6% year on year. Some websites have reported activist VMware investors being keen for EMC to sell off the virtualisation behemoth completely. It is currently 80% owned by EMC after a spin-off sale in 2007.

Other EMC divisions, such as security products and services group RSA, increased their revenue by 1.6% year on year, while big data/cloud-focussed Pivotal reported a 10% revenue rise from $49m to $54m.

While EMC has risen to become out-and-out market leader in storage hardware, that position has come under threat from a number of sources, including new storage startups, particularly in flash storage.

More on EMC

  • EMC president Jeremy Burton discusses the supplier's product strategy, plans for software-defined storage, hyperscale storage and Pivotal software.
  • EMC announces VSPEX Blue EVO:Rail hyper-converged appliance in general-purpose and performance variants.

Although EMC got on board early with flash in its core enterprise arrays and with the acquisition and development of Xtremio flash storage, some flash startups, such as Nimbus Data, Pure Storage, Violin Memory and Solidfire, have made inroads into market share.

At the same time, other approaches to storage have emerged to threaten the traditional storage array that has been the mainstay of EMC’s business.

These include software-defined storage, where customers pay for storage software that is deployed on commodity servers. EMC has its own twist on this with ViPR while VMware has its software-defined storage play, Virtual SAN (VSAN).

Hyper-converged storage is a threat to the traditional storage array in that it combines server, storage and networking in one hardware appliance, usually configurable in scale-out fashion.

Nutanix and Simplivity are noted providers of hyper-converged products, but web giants such as Google and Facebook were the pioneers, developing their infrastructure on the basis of so-called open-source hardware made up of myriad server/storage/network components.

Recently, EMC has also got onto the hyper-converged train with its iteration of VMware’s EVO:Rail.

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