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NetApp clambers over stumbling Big Blue as storage market shrinks

IDC numbers show giants jockeying for 2nd and 3rd place

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In the first quarter of 2013, the network-attached storage and storage-area-network markets shrank for the first time in four years, according to IDC. HP, Hitachi and IBM revenues were the hardest hit hard, we're told.

The bean-counters' Quarterly Storage Tracker monitors suppliers' sales of external (networked) storage and total storage hardware (external plus server-attached), and computes their percentage revenue share. By tracking it we can see how well the vendors are doing relative to each other and to the market, and what is happening to the overall sector.

In the first three months of this year, the external storage market was worth a shade over $5.91bn according to IDC, a fall of 0.9 percent compared to the year-ago total of $5.97bn.

IDC attributed this decline to reduced demand in developed markets. The total storage market was worth $7.7bn, a 3.2 per cent fall from the year-ago quarter, probably affected by lower server sales.

Within these numbers the NAS and non-mainframe SAN sector actually grew 0.4 per cent to a tad more than $5.1bn. The open SAN market also grew 1.3 per cent over this period while the NAS market declined 2.2 per cent. In that sector NetApp led with 37.4 per cent while EMC was second with a 36.9 per cent share*.

Supplier revenue shares for external storage in the first quarter of 2013 were:

Company name Revenue share (2013) Revenue share (2012)
EMC 30.4 per cent 29.0 per cent
IBM 10.9 per cent 11.4 per cent
NetApp 14.9 per cent 14.1 per cent
HP 8.5 per cent 10.2 per cent
Hitachi 8.9 per cent 9.4 per cent
Others 26.5 per cent 25.9 per cent

EMC is top of the chart and an overall riser. The graph below shows that trend and we can also see that NetApp's overtaking of IBM has happened before with NetApp unable to sustain its advantage as Big Blue clawed back its sales share in the subsequent quarters. Perhaps this time it will be different.

IDC external disk Q1 2013 small

IDC external storage sales share for Q1 2013 … click on the chart to get a larger version

The trend lines for HP and IBM are, overall, declining while Hitachi's trend is flat. Dell does not appear in the chart because IDC includes it in the "Others" category, its external storage revenues being that small. These are percentage revenue share numbers so, as long as the overall market is growing, so are their revenues.

IDC's equivalent numbers for total storage revenues are:

Company name Revenue share (2013) Revenue share (2012)
EMC 23.2 per cent 21.7 per cent
HP 15.5 per cent 18.2 per cent
Dell 13.9 per cent 11.5 per cent
IBM 12.1 per cent 14.9 per cent
NetApp 11.4 per cent 10.5 per cent
Others 23.9 per cent 23.2 per cent

Another chart shows the trends over the past few quarters:-

IDC Total Storage Q1 2013

IDC's total storage sales share for Q1 2013 … click on the chart for larger version.

We see sudden upturns in the lines for Dell and NetApp, a decline for HP that accelerated in the latest quarter, and a decline for IBM overall. EMC is top o' the heap again as it jostles with the "Others" category. There is a four-quarter seasonality pattern in IBM's numbers once again so we'll need to see the trend over the next few months before judging that Dell has overtaken IBM and that NetApp is going to follow suit. ®

*These positions are transposed in the IDC report.

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