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Strange portents in the storage world

IDC minstrels tell of the vanished giant Dell

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Big changes are afoot in the storage world, with IDC's storage tracker showing NetApp outgrowing everybody, Dell fading and HDS coming on strong. EMC is still top dog but HP and IBM are faltering.

These conclusions come from IDC's quarterly storage tracker for the first 2011 quarter. IDC tracks the worldwide disk storage market on a revenue basis and ranks the various suppliers.

In the total external disk storage systems market EMC was the leader with a 27.3 per cent revenue share ($1.523bn) and NetApp second, leaping past IBM and HP, with a 13.5 per cent share ($757m). The market as a whole grew 13.2 per cent from 2010's first quarter (Q1) to Q1 2011. EMC grew at 24.7 over the same period while NetApp grew at 37.8 per cent. That growth rate is impressive but slowing. In the preceding quarter NetApp revenues grew 43.7 per cent and 54.9 per cent in the quarter before that. This slowing growth rate looks like a steady trend.

IDC lists five top vendors and lumps everybody else into the "Others" category. IBM is number three (12.2 per cent), HP number four (10.5 per cent), and Hitachi fifth (9 per cent). Someone's missing, and it's Dell. In the previous quarter Dell tied with Hitachi for the fifth position. Now it has slipped back into the "Others" category.

Another upset has occurred in the total disk storage systems market where HP and EMC were joint pack leaders in Q4 2010 with a 19.2 per cent share. Now EMC has now overtaken HP and has a 20.3 per cent share compared to HP's 18.4 per cent. EMC grew at 24.7 per cent while HP grew at 14.2 percent. Both were ahead of the market growth of 12.1 per cent. IBM is in third place, as in the previous quarter, with a 14.6 per cent share; Dell is in fourth place at 11.4 per cent and NetApp fifth at 10.1 per cent.

However, NetApp recorded the fastest growth, 37.8 per cent, while Dell with 0.7 per cent fell back, trailing the "others" category which grew at 0.9 per cent and included Hitachi. In the previous quarter Dell's revenues grew 19.2 per cent and its year-on-year growth in Q1 2011 is dismal in comparison. If this continues NetApp will overtake it next quarter.

Dell did well in the ISCSI SAN market, a sub-section of the external disk storage systems measurement, which grew at 23 per vent. IDC reckons it led that market with a 32.9 per cent revenue share, followed by HP (14.4 per cent) and EMC (14.2 per cent) both in a statistical tie for second place.

If Dell can convert its Compellent purchase into booming sales as it has done with EqualLogic then it should be able to climb out of the slough of disk despond it is in.

IDC tracks disk storage sales, not flash storage sales. With flash making a stronger showing in both direct-attached and externally-attached storage arrays it may be that IDC will need to work out how to take flash storage sales into account and convert its disk storage tracker into a flash and disk storage tracker. ®

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