Mixed fortunes in becalmed storage market

Order cancellations

The enterprise storage and switches market experienced better than expected US sales last quarter, but European revenues fell short of expectations.

That's according to the latest survey of storage resellers by channel consultancy Global Touch which reports how mixed fortunes for the channel on either side of the Atlantic mirrored the relative showing of vendors themselves.

Channel Tracker is a quarterly survey of resellers, disties, systems integrators etc. produced by Global Touch. The survey participants collectively account for more than $100 billion in annual sales, so their experience provides a worthwhile snapshot of the health (or otherwise) of the market.

For Q4, three in four (75 per cent) of US respondents to Global Touch's Channel Tracker survey reported enterprise storage and switches equipment sales in-line with expectations. By contrast, 62 percent of Europeans quizzed during the survey said Q4 revenues fell "below-to-extremely below" sales expectations mainly because of order cancellations.

Comparing sequential quarterly revenue growth (Q4 compared with Q3), US survey respondents indicated that sales of "HP, IBM, Snap, and Sun were "in-line or in-line-to-ahead of expectations". Sales of Brocade, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, and Network Appliance kit by US resellers "were below-to-extremely below expectations", according to the study.

Meanwhile sales of Brocade, HP, Hitachi Data Systems, and Snap equipment held up well in Europe, while revenue for IBM, Network Appliance, and Sun gear fell well short of expectations this side of the Atlantic. EMC resellers in Europe experience mixed fortunes: half exceeded sales expectations but the other half failed to reach targets.

Looking ahead to next quarter, Channel Tracker's US panellists predict mixed fortunes for vendors.

Respondents predict "strong or moderate-to-strong" (between 10 and 19 per cent) growth in Q12003 compared to Q12002 for Brocade, EMC, HP, and Snap. Predicted sales for Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Network Appliance, and Sun will be moderate-to-flat, US resellers surveyed predict.

Although - like their networking reseller counterparts - the channel was left battered by "brutal" market conditions in Europe, European resellers are more optimistic about sales in 2003 than their American cousins.

A rise in sales in 2003 compared to 2002 is predicted by 39 per cent of European resellers quizzed. By contrast, more than half 59 per cent of US respondents to the Channel Tracker survey expect revenues to decline this year.

The data for the Enterprise Storage and Switches edition of Global Touch's Channel Tracker report was collected from participants during the first two weeks in December 2002, and focuses on sales in the fourth calendar quarter (October 1 to December 31, 2002).

A summary of the report can be found here, and the full report can be purchased here for $399. A four-quarter subscription to the report costs $1,436.00. ®

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