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Crisis? What crisis?

The storage train is still chugging hard and fast as IDC just released its Worldwide Disk Storage System Tracker for 3Q11. Despite the economic climate, the storage market posted a strong 8.5% revenue growth and a whopping 30.7% growth in terms of petabytes shipped. In total, 5,429PB were shipped in Q3.

So how did everyone do in this latest Tracker report?

In the Worldwide Total External Disk Storage Systems, EMC is still holding on to the #1 position, with 28.6%. IBM and NetApp came in at 12.7% and 12.1% respectively. The table below summarizes the percentage view of the top storage players, in terms of revenue.

From the table, everyone benefited from the strong buying of storage in the last quarter. EMC gained a strong market gain of almost 3%, while everyone else either gained or lost less than 1% market share.  But the more interesting numbers are not from the market share column but the % growth column.

HDS posted the strongest growth of 22.1%, slightly higher than EMC of 22.0%. HDS is beginning to get their story right, putting the right storage solutions in place, and has been strongly focused in their services offering as well. That’s simply great news for HDS because this is a company is not known for their marketing and advertising. The Japanese “culture” within HDS probably has taught it to be prudent but to see HDS growing faster than the big boys like IBM and HP is something their competitors should respect. I believe customers are beginning to see the true potential of HDS.

As for EMC, everyone labels them as the 800-pound gorilla but they have been very nimble and strong in the storage market for many quarters. This is due to the strong management team headed by Joe Tucci and his heir-in-waiting, Pat Gelsinger. Several of their acquisitions are doing well, with the likes of Isilon, Greenplum, Data Domain, and of course VMware. Even though VMware does not contribute the EMC revenue numbers, the very fact that EMC owns more than 80% of VMware has already given EMC a lot of credibility in the storage battlefield. They are certainly going great guns.

NetApp took a hit in the last quarter, when they missed the street revenue numbers last quarter. Their stock took a beating and there were rumours in the market that NetApp might acquire Commvault and Quantum to compete with EMC. EMC has been able to leverage the list of companies and acquired solutions very well, from data protection solutions like Networker and Avamar, deduplication solutions like Data Domain and Avamar, Documentum for content management and so on, while NetApp has been, for the longest time, prefer a more “loosely-coupled” approach with their partners for a more complete solution set.

Other interesting reports from IDC are the Open SAN/NAS market, the NAS market and the iSCSI market.

The Open SAN/NAS market combination, according to IDC goes like this:

EMC 31.3%
NetApp 14.4%

In the NAS only market, EMC and Isilon (under the one EMC umbrella) competes with NetApp and the table is like this:

EMC 46.7%
NetApp 30.7%

The iSCSI only market is led by Dell (EqualLogic and Compellent combined), followed by EMC and IBM. Here’s the summarized table:

Dell 30.3%
EMC 19.2%
IBM 14.0%

The strong growth is indeed good news as the storage market continues to weather the economic crisis storm. I have been saying this all along. The storage market in IT is still the growth engine as data keeps growing and growing, even though it was never the darling of the IT industry. Let’s hope the trend continues.


IDC EMEA External Disk Storage Systems 2Q11 trends

Europe is the worst hit region in this present economic crisis. We have seen countries such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland being some of the worst hit countries and Italy was just downgraded last week by S&P. Last week was also the release of the 2Q2011 External Disk Storage Systems figures from IDC and the poor economic sentiments are reflected in the IDC figures as well.

Overall, the factory revenue for Western Europe grew 6% compared to the year before, but declined 5% when compared to 1Q2011. As I was reading a summary of the report, 2 very interesting trends were clear.

  • The high-end market of above USD250,000 AND the lower-end market of less than USD50,000 increased while the mid-end market of between USD50,000-100,000 price range declined
  • Sentiments revealed that storage buyers are increasingly looking for platforms that are quick to deploy and easy to manage.

As older systems are refreshed, larger companies are definitely consolidating into larger, higher-end systems to support the consolidation of their businesses and operations. Fundamentals such as storage consolidation, centralized data protection, disaster recovery and server virtualization are likely to be the key initiatives by larger organization to cut operational costs and maximizing of storage economics. This has translated to the EMEA market spending more on the higher-end storage solutions from EMC, IBM, HDS and HP.

NetApp, which has been always very strong in the mid-end market, did well to increase their market share and factory revenue at IBM’s and HP’s expense because their sales were flattish. Dell, while transitioning from its partnership with EMC to its Dell Compellent boxes, was the worst hit.

The lower-end storage solution market, according to IDC figures, increased between 10-25% depending on the price ranges of USD5,000 to USD10,000 to USD15,000. This could mean a few things but the obvious call would be the economic situation of most Western European SMBs/SMEs. This could also mean that the mid-end market could be on the decline as many of the lower-end systems are good enough to do the job. One thing the economic crisis can teach us is to be very prudent with our spendings and I believe the Western European companies are taking the same path to control their costs and maximizing their investments.

The second trend was more interesting to me. The quote of “quick to deploy and easy to manage” is definitely pushing the market to react to more off-the-shelf and open components. From an HP stand point of their Converged Infrastructure, the x86 strategy for their storage solutions is making good sense, because I believe there will be lesser need for proprietary hardware from traditional storage vendors like EMC, NetApp and others (HP included). Likewise, having storage solutions such as VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) and storage appliance software that runs on the x86 platforms such as Nexenta and Gluster could spell out the next wave in the storage networking industry. To have things easy, specialized appliances which I have spoke much of lately, hits the requirement of “quick to deploy and easy to manage” right on the dot.

The overall fundamentals of the external disk storage systems market remain strong. Below is the present standings in the EMEA market as reported by IDC.