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HP and EMC vie for disk storage lead

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IDC's latest quarterly disk storage tracker shows EMC and HP competing for the market lead, with EMC growing faster than HP. NetApp is growing faster still but has a lot of ground to make up.

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Disk Systems Tracker looks at the total disk storage market in terms of factory revenue along with the external disk storage systems part of it.

In the total market which combines internal disk systems (inside servers for example) and externally-attached storage such as NAS and SAN arrays, the total revenue number grew 20.7 per cent from the second quarter last year, from $5.6bn to $6.8bn, but grew only 1.1 per cent from the first quarter of this year as recovery from the recession appears to have slowed.

HP and EMC tied for first place with 19.3 per cent and 19 per cent revenue shares respectively. While HP grew revenues at a fast 33.3 per cent clip to $1.3bn, well outpacing the market as a whole, EMC grew at an even faster 40.6 percent to $1.287bn.

It's apparent that EMC is not present in the internal disk storage market at all, and its shared lead with HP here is due to its overwhelming external disk storage market strength and HP's relative weakness there.

However EMC was not the fastest-growing supplier; that accolade went to NetApp with a buoyant 55 per cent growth rate to $571m, giving it the number five ranking. Numbers three and four were IBM ($1.072bn) and Dell ($832m) who grew at 9.3 per cent and 22.9 per cent respectively. Dell grew at just above the market rate while IBM under-shot.

The proportion of disk storage sold by others, such as Oracle/Sun, HDS and the remaining suppliers declined sharply, relatively speaking, with a growth rate of just 0.9 per cent, emphasising the concentration of revenues in the hands of the top five suppliers.

When IDC looked just at external disk storage revenues, the picture was different.

EMC had a strong lead over everyone else, with a 25.7 per cent revenue share at $1.287bn, and the aforesaid 40.6 per cent growth rate, only outstripped by NetApp's 55.3 per cent growth rate, taking NetApp to the number three position. Its $571m revenue giving it 11.4 per cent of that sector's revenue.

IBM is in second place with $680m revenue and a 13.6 per cent share, about half that of EMC. IBM's revenue growth rate was just 10.9 per cent year-on-year, way behind the total external sector growth rate of 20.4 per cent.

IBM's presence is weakening and, if this pattern is repeated next quarter, it could become third in the sector behind a surging NetApp. HP statistically ties with NetApp for third place, with revenues of $567m, an 11.3 per cent share, and a growth rate of 20.9 per net, growing with the market in effect, but much, much less than EMC or NetApp. Its products, the EVA and XP arrays, are just not as desirable as EMC's CLARiiON, Celerra and Symmetrix arrays and NetApp's FAS products.

3PAR only has 0.58 per cent of the market and adding that to HP's share gives HP 11.88 per cent, surpassing NetApp but still a statistical tie in IDC terms. If HP could get its external storage revenues growing more strongly then it could become the undisputed top storage dog; as it is it has a lop-sided profile being strong in internal storage but weakish in the external sector.

Dell has the fifth rank in the external sector with $472m revenues, a 9.4 per cent share, and a growth rate of 17 per cent, lower than the external disk storage market as a whole. It leads in iSCSI SAN (EqualLogic) with a 32.9 per cent share but is weak elsewhere. Since it has recently extended its EMC reselling agreement to include Celerra and Data Domain systems that may well change.

It has little high-end storage market presence and its fourth position in the overall disk storage market will be improved if it sells lots more mid-range external storage and more servers with storage inside them. WE could ask why it hasn't been doing better with CLARiiON systems though; EMC has been doing well enough with those boxes.

Two curiosities. In the first quarter of 2009 Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) was number six with a 9.4 per cent revenue share. It does not appear in today's IDC tracker tables at all, being lumped in with the Others category. It has not grown as much as it needed to.

Still, that poor performance pales into insignificance compared to the collapse in Sun storage revenues. Its factory revenues actually shrank from the second quarter of 2009 to this year's second quarter, with a change of -11.3 per cent. Oracle has a very steep and long hill to climb to get its Sun disk storage operation back into the upper ranks of the industry.

The other notable take-away is that IBM is not doing well, growing revenues more slowly than the market and perhaps needing stronger overall internal control and direction of its multi-product range in order to lift sales significantly and consistently. It could be overtaken by Dell in the total disk storage system market, and by NetApp in the external disk storage market. ®

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