EMC Heads the Pack in Storage Race

As the external disk storage market grows steadily, EMC and NetApp increased their market shares in 2004 while HP and IBM decreased.

Buoyed by numerous acquisitions and a laser-sharp focus, EMC overtook Hewlett-Packard in 2004 as the leader in external disk storage systems for the first time.

EMC Corp.s market share rose from 18.6 percent in 2003 to 21.1 percent in 2004, an 18.4-percent growth. Those numbers represent a virtual reversal with second-place finisher Hewlett-Packard Co., which decreased 6.3 percent to an 18.7-percent share from its 2003 market share of 20.9 percent, according to IDC (International Data Corp.), a Framingham, Mass. consultancy that released the Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker.

EMCs growth is due to many factors, including its purchase of several software companies that helped fuel the sale of its hardware. The companys continued investment in its Clariion product was another factor.

The product is selling well, not only through EMC and its channel partners, but through its cobranding arrangement with Dell Computer Corp., said Brad Nisbet, a program manager in IDCs storage systems practice.

IBM Corp. also had a tough year, reducing its market share by 4.3 percent. The main reason, Nisbet said, was a fourth-quarter misstep involving the companys new TotalStorage DS6000 and 8000 products. The products were supposed to ship in the fourth quarter, but an availability problem caused a delay, decimating IBMs numbers for the quarter.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about storage integration from IBM and NetApp.

Hitachi Data Systems ran about even with last year, slowed by the slow move from its Lightning technology to TagmaStore. Sun Microsystems Inc. and HP also were affected by that slow transition, Nisbet said.

Although Network Appliance Inc. has a much smaller market share than other players in the external storage market, it experienced significant growth, gaining nearly 27 percent in market share, from 2.8 to 3.5 percent.

"NetApp has publicly stated extremely aggressive growth numbers and I dont have any reason to believe they wont achieve their goals," Nisbet said.

Despite EMCs full-speed-ahead posture, the worldwide external disk storage system market grew modestly, at 4.7 percent. One reason, Nisbet said, is that midrange systems like EMCs Clariion are the sweet spot, but because they are beginning to offer high-capacity, lower-cost drives, they represent a decrease in dollars per gigabyte.

"By bringing down the dollar per gigabyte, youre fueling the terabyte growth and keeping revenue growth at bay," Nisbet said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about EMCs iSCSI support for smaller businesses.

Looking toward 2005, Nisbet expects to see EMC remain on top, but others also will improve their standing. "The other guys have only one direction to go, and thats up," he said. Nisbet expects Network Appliance to continue its upward trend, and expects IBM to rebound from its disastrous fourth quarter.

In the worldwide disk storage-system market, which also includes internal storage, HP remains number one with a 23.6 percent market share, down slightly from its 25.8 percent share in 2003. IBM ranked second with 20.6 percent, and EMC third with 14.3 percent. Rounding out the top seven, in order, are Dell, HDS, Sun and NetApp.

Nisbet expects HP to remain the market leader, mainly because EMC doesnt focus on external storage. "EMC has a long way to catch up if it is just going to sell external storage," he said. "It would be virtually impossible, even if they are on a roll."

In other storage news, IDCs latest network storage numbers show iSCSI growing at an exponential pace. In 2003, the market was $18 million, rising to $113 million in 2004. IDC predicts that iSCSI will grow to more than $300 million in 2005, fueled by NetApps aggressive leadership in the market.

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.