When I first joined CRN's sister publication Channelnomics Europe at the beginning of 2016, the storage market was all anyone was talking about.
What with Pure Storage going public with a $400m offering, later followed by new kid on the block Nutanix making one of the most successful US IPOs of 2016, and the small matter of storage stalwart EMC entering the tech sector's largest-ever merger at $67bn with Dell, storage was seemingly a hot topic when I started reporting on the industry.
All things considered, the storage market's most active vendors were making some industry-defining changes at that time.
But fast-forward to the beginning of last year, and things looked like they were starting to die down. Potential uncertainty and anxiety stemming from Dell's mammoth merger with EMC was soon ironed out by the tech giant, as its channel executives Sarah Shields, John Byrne and Michael Collins made a point of maintaining a close relationship with the press and frequently updated us as partner programmes, rebates and product lines were tied together.
And Pure Storage simmered down in 2017. Aside from hosting a partner forum in San Francisco over the summer and launching its new Flash Array//X product line a few months before, the noisy neighbour has been somewhat quiet - at least from a journalist's perspective.
Indeed, even the industry's analysts noticed an apparent slump or stagnation in the activity of storage vendors. The technology segment hit its tenth consecutive quarter of decline in Q2 of last year, according to IDC, as the once-trendy technology started to look a little antique.
Commenting on the resurging profitability of the PC market, Steve Brazier at Canalys even took a pop at the storage market's flagging performance.
"About five years ago the storage companies were the kings of the technology industry… they thought they were special, but suddenly storage has been commoditised and the storage guys are going to PC companies saying 'please can I have a job'," he said.
But is the storage market about to make a comeback?
Storage began to make headlines again when HPE - after a year and a half of stripping back and selling unwanted assets - made a bold commitment to storage when the vendor acquired promising players SimpliVity and Nimble Storage, a move that has excited its channel partners.
Added to that, Gartner reported that the storage market returned to growth in the third quarter of last year, as sales experienced a double-digit increase in EMEA year on year.
A new-found optimism for storage has been echoed elsewhere. Distribution behemoth Arrow ECS called attention to a new buoyancy in storage sales across the Americas and EMEA thanks to the release of new form factors.
Meanwhile, Dell EMC has been aggressively pushing its storage portfolio - imploring partners to "sell storage all day, every day", following the release of new mid-range products for its SC and Unity ranges.
The storage market is undoubtedly heating up. Dell EMC, HPE, NetApp, Pure Storage and IBM are all tightly bunched together as leaders in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for solid-state arrays.
With all of storage's major players adapting or moulding their business models towards disruptive technologies such as hyperconverged and cloud, perhaps the technology's second wind will continue well into 2018.
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