Yesterday I received an IBM press release, pleased to have been placed by Gartner in the leaders' quadrant in the Magic Quadrant box for Storage Resource Management and SAN Management Software: great for IBM I thought.

Today I received a press release from EMC. It was very pleased to have ..... yes, you guessed it - in the leaders quadrant of the etc., etc. EMC and IBM might just as well have shared a PR agency since they issued near-identical releases - just exchange the product names.

Hmm, who is the actual leader? I contacted Gartner which was kind enough to tell me; there isn't one. EMC and IBM effectively tie and there are no other companies in the leaders' quadrant.

IBM has had a promotion with Gartner's report saying: "IBM made a large move from our previous Magic Quadrant as a result of a new unified product infrastructure and a new administrative console." EMC continued doing well but v6 of its ControlCenter was too late for Gartner to use in its assessment. It may well be that, were it to have been past beta testing, EMC might have swept past IBM and its Total Productivity Centre. It is held back by limited support for NetApp products and some other things.

The visionary quadrant has Network Appliance (a new entrant) , Onaro - good for it, and Akorri. No. me neither, I've not come across it before. Gartner's report comments: "Recently, Akorri has entered the market to offer comprehensive cross-domain performance management, which includes storage."

The niche players' quadrant, the place suppliers don't want to be, features NTP Software, Northern Parklife, TeraCloud and, wait for it, Brocade. I don't think Mr Klayko will be spitting rivets as Brocade is just SAN management and not an SRM supplier. In fact none of the niche players have full lines of SAN management and SRM products.

The Challengers' quadrant, the place for the also-rans with merit, has HP, new-entrant Hitachi Data Systems and Symantec nudging up against the dividing line from the leaders' quadrant. Further back are Tek-Tools and CA.

Didn't HP do much better last year? Indeed it did, as did Symantec. Both have been demoted by Gartner: "HP and Symantec moved from the Leaders quadrant to the Challengers quadrant. Both vendors also moved down in their ability to execute. HP is not having the same level of bundling success that EMC and IBM are having with their storage arrays. Symantec is recrafting its SRM portfolio, recently splitting out the backup reporting capability as a separate offering, and is looking to release new modules and enhancements later in 2007."

Well, you can't say Gartner isn't willing to say unpopular things.

Hasn't the SRM space changed? Creekpath and Softek are no more. A whole data protection management reporting product area has grown up separate from SRM and clustered, high-end NAS products such as those from Isilon and Acopia didn't even exist a very few years ago. ISCSI is ramping up. The poor old SRM products are chasing a fast-moving target and find it hard to keep up.