Philip Cao

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2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems

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The integrated system market is growing at 50% or more per year, creating an unusual mix of major vendors and startups to consider. This new Magic Quadrant will aid vendor selection in this dynamic sector.

Market Definition/Description

This document was revised on 27 June 2014. The document you are viewing is the corrected version. For more information, see the Corrections page on

Integrated systems are combinations of server, storage and network infrastructure, sold with management software that facilitates the provisioning and management of the combined unit. The market for integrated systems can be subdivided into broad categories, some of which overlap. Gartner categorizes these classes of integrated systems (among others):

  • Integrated stack systems (ISS) — Server, storage and network hardware integrated with application software to provide appliance or appliancelike functionality. Examples include Oracle Exadata Database Machine, IBM PureApplication System and Teradata.
  • Integrated infrastructure systems (IIS) — Server, storage and network hardware integrated to provide shared compute infrastructure. Examples include VCE Vblock, HP ConvergedSystem and IBM PureFlex System.
  • Integrated reference architectures — Products in which a predefined, presized set of components are designated as options for an integrated system whereby the user and/or channel can make configuration choices between the predefined options. These may be based on an IIS or ISS (with additional software, or services to facilitate easier deployment). Other forms of reference architecture, such as EMC VSPEX, allow vendors to group separate server, storage and network elements from a menu of eligible options to create an integrated system experience. Most reference architectures are, therefore, based on a partnership between hardware and software vendors, or between multiple hardware vendors. However, reference architectures that support a variety of hardware ingredients are more difficult to assess versus packaged integrated systems, which is why they are not evaluated by this research.
  • Fabric-based computing (FBC) — A form of integrated system in which the overall platform is aggregated from separate (or disaggregated) building-block modules connected over a fabric or switched backplane. Unlike the majority of IIS and ISS solutions, which group and package existing technology elements in a fabric-enabled environment, the technology ingredients of an FBC solution will be designed solely around the fabric implementation model. So all FBCs are an example of either an IIS or an ISS; but most IIS and ISS solutions available today would not yet be eligible to be counted as an FBC. Examples include SimpliVity, Nutanix and HP Moonshot System.

Added market complexity is created because integrated systems of different categories are frequently evaluated against each other in deal situations. For instance, because IIS solutions are generic multipurpose systems that can run a variety of workloads, it is common for one IIS to be compared with another. But users who want to deploy a specific workload might compare an ISS solution, like Oracle Exadata Database Machine or IBM PureApplication System (both of which have the workload embedded), with a generic IIS system that is also capable of running the workload, or with an IIS platform that has an applicable reference architecture. However, it would be rare to see one ISS competing with another ISS, because the choice of stacks and workload takes priority over the choice of platform. So if Oracle Database Management System (DBMS) serving is the required workload, the only viable ISS solution would be an Oracle Engineered System.

It is because these different types of systems are evaluated against each other that this Magic Quadrant assesses integrated systems as integrated infrastructure systems or the infrastructure aspects of integrated stack systems. It assesses the hardware (server, network, storage), operating system and virtualization software alongside any associated management tools and high-availability (HA) solutions. It considers hardware depth and scale, software stack management breadth and depth, and support of the infrastructure, as well as flexibility in the use of reference architectures. It does not assess any software stack, application or platform components individually, such as middleware, DBMS software and cluster software in the application or DBMS tiers.

Most integrated systems are based on blade server technology, with closely coupled storage area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS), which enable boot-from-disk capability for all physical and virtual nodes; thus, the system becomes stateless. Blades are not a prerequisite, however, and some vendors will promote rack-based solutions as well. The majority of integrated systems are the effective packaging of server, storage and networking components that are sold as separate products in their own right. But we are seeing the emergence of true “fabric-based computers” that merge the three elements more seamlessly.

The great majority of integrated systems are based on Intel or AMD x86 technology, but there is some support for reduced instruction set computer (RISC) variants like Power and SPARC, and the emerging market for ARM and Intel Atom processors will have applicability for some integrated system use cases.

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