Data Storage Market Shows Signs of Hope

Analysts from Gartner and IDC are seeing signs that the data storage market may finally be turning around.

Gartner reported that worldwide external controller-based disk storage revenue declined 7.3 percent from a year ago to $3.9 billion in the third quarter.

IDC said worldwide external disk storage system factory revenue fell 10 percent to $4.4 billion, but noted sequential growth in all market segments from the second quarter, the first time that’s happened since the fourth quarter of 2008.

Donna Taylor, principal research analyst for Gartner’s global Storage Quarterly Statistics program, called the news “the first sign of a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Taylor noted particular strength in the network-attached storage (NAS) market, which she said was the result of greater emphasis on the storage networking technology by both vendors and users.

“More business sizes are purchasing this technology, not just small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) anymore, but large enterprises as well,” Taylor told Enterprise Storage Forum.

Taylor said cost and ease of deployment and management are behind the market shift. “The economic downturn has meant that organizations of all sizes have had to cut/reduce/delay budget outlays, forcing them to seek out a cost-effective means of storing their data,” she said. “NAS can do that for them.”

One benefit of the downturn, said Taylor, has been better customer service and support. “The customer has benefited via lower pricing, expanded financing options, and greater service and support,” she said. “As a result, the economic downturn has provided vendors an opportunity to be more responsive to the needs of its customers, current and future.”

EMC Still Comfortably in the Lead

Both IDC and Gartner placed EMC (NYSE: EMC) comfortably in the lead with a roughly 26 percent market share, with IBM (NYSE: IBM) second at around 13 percent and HP (NYSE: HPQ) at roughly 11 percent.

Gartner had Hitachi, NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) at around 9 percent each, and Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) at a 3.6 percent market share.

EMC, IBM, Dell and NetApp suffered single-digit percentage revenue declines from the third quarter of 2008, while HP, Sun and Hitachi saw their storage business fall by double digits, according to Gartner.

IDC reported that the total disk storage market — including server-based storage — fell 9.6 percent to $6 billion. 2,661 petabytes were shipped, a 21 percent increase.

Steve Scully, research manager for Enterprise Storage at IDC, said in a statement that “The stability in the storage market that IDC first began to see last quarter is now being felt more broadly by storage vendors.”

IDC said the total network disk storage market (NAS and open SAN) declined 7.6 percent to $3.4 billion, with EMC in the lead at a 29 percent revenue share, followed by IBM with 12.5 percent.

The open SAN market declined 16 percent, with EMC in the lead with a 24.4 percent share, IDC said. The NAS market grew 2.2 percent, led by EMC with 46.4 percent of the market and NetApp with 24.5 percent.

The iSCSI SAN market grew 24.7 percent. Dell led with a 33.6 percent revenue share, followed by EMC with 15.1 percent.

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Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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