Hewlett Packard Enterprise eyes growth in flash storage market

Post-company split, Hewlett Packard Enterprise is even more focused on the storage market, in particular flash as adoption grows.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor on

Four years ago, Hewlett-Packard was nowhere to be seen in the flash storage market, but according to Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) head of Storage for Asia Pacific and Japan Phil Davis, during the second quarter of calendar 2015, IDC named HP as the number two player in the global flash market.

Speaking to ZDNet, Davis said results such as IDC's data validate the heavy investments the company has made in the space.

Last year, for instance, the company claimed that its latest suite of all-flash storage arrays, the 3PAR StoreServ Storage family, was going to cost businesses less than $1.50 per GB, down from the $2 per GB the company had announced as part of the flash arrays range it released in 2014.

Davis added that even though the company has now been split into HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a deal that was finalised in November, there are no plans to slow down its growth in the storage space. This is particularly so at a time when the traditional, high-end, monolithic storage market is shrinking by double digits, and the mid-market storage space is growing.

"Flash is probably the biggest and the most real right now," Davis said. "It's a big market, and it's growing very quickly."

According to Davis, Australia and New Zealand have been leading in flash adoption in the Asia-Pacific region, but its proliferation is also starting to take off in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. He expects to see this trend strengthen in 2016.

The growth of flash in the storage market comes off the back of the overall customer demand, Davis explained.

"The biggest driver of flash has been the overall consumer market and how ubiquitous flash has become. From there, it has driven up the overall flash demand, which has driven down manufacturing costs; you then see it in the enterprise flash market."

Davis has predicted that as the price of flash continues to decrease, vendors such as HPE will begin to ship more flash arrays than hard drives over the next six months, mainly because flash will reach a point where it's "cheaper, better, and faster" than traditional hard disks.

Davis also acknowledged that while HPE was a little late to the game -- it competes against veterans including EMC, Pure Storage, NetApp, and Dell -- the company is unfazed by the competition, insisting that HPE's position in the flash market is rather "unique".

"We took a little while to come to market with a flash solution, and that was by decision," he said. "We found the earlier flash systems had compromises with them -- they were super expensive or they weren't very scalable, or they didn't have enterprise class data services -- so we took time and we built our flash solution from the ground up. We built it to work with the rest of our 3PAR solutions; it wasn't another silo.

"If you look at all the major competitors, they make big compromises and trade-offs on their solutions. A lot of them [had] gone off and acquired one of the earlier startups, and the problem with acquiring an early startup is they don't work with the rest of your existing architectures. HPE is in a unique position where we ...[have the] exact same operating system, data services, and management as the rest of our 3PAR portfolio."

Another point Davis highlighted about the storage market was the increasing uptake -- in particular in Australia and New Zealand -- of software-defined storage, with the belief that the trend will further strengthen during 2016. He said this trend will be accelerated by the increasing adoption of hyper-converged architectures where a business' server, storage, and network is encompassed in a single box.

Davis said that logically, the market can expect to see HPE extending its existing products this year and adding new products, while it continues to work on federating its software and performance services.

"As we look out, you will see HPE enable you to federate software and performance. Today, all of performance is federated and all software is federated. Over time, I think you'll be able to federate across software and performance," he said.

"We'll be the only ones federated in performance and the only ones federated in software, so we're already leading there. As we work to augment that to let you federate across those two, that will put us in a very unique position in the marketplace."

Editorial standards