Q3 Disk Storage Results: Glass Half Empty Or Half Full?

Both Gartner and IDC have released their third quarter 2012 disk storage numbers, and while there are some similarities, their different ways of segmenting the market have led to quite different takes on what happened last quarter. Gartner, which seemed to take the glass-half-empty approach and reported on the external controller-based (ECB) disk storage vendor revenue (up 3.6% year-over-year to $5.3 billion), covered new vendor-branded hardware only, as well as hardware revenue associated with financial leases and managed services. IDC, more the glass-half-full approach (up 3.3% YoY to just over $5.9 billion), defined a disk storage system as a set of storage elements, including controllers, cables, and (in some instances) host bus adapters, associated with three or more disks.

“Reflecting the weak global macro economy, revenue growth in the third quarter of 2012 was the lowest annual growth rate over the past seven quarters, down 3.1 percentage points and 4.4 percentage points respectively from the second quarter 2012 and first quarter 2012 growth rates,” said Roger Cox, research vice president at Gartner. Four vendors — Hitachi/Hitachi Data Systems, Fujitsu, EMC and NetApp — outgrew the market, while the other four major vendors – Dell, HP, IBM and Oracle – ‘face difficulties beyond global macroeconomic issues.’

Gartner said lack of significant presence in the high-growth NAS market segment, in conjunction with the abrupt Compellent Storage Center and EqualLogic PS Series revenue shortfall, the latter apparently due to changing go-to-market strategies resulting from executive leadership changes, contributed to Dell’s third quarter 2012 annual revenue drop-off. Beyond the turmoil surrounding HP’s board of directors and associated corporate activities, HP faces additional headwinds with almost half, over 43% of its ECB disk storage revenue coming from a struggling EMEA and the drag of legacy P9000 XP, P6000 EVA, P4000 SAN and P2000 MSA products. IBM’s revenue decline is attributed in part to faulty field operation strategy and execution, as well as to the fall off in DS8000 series and midrange DS5000/3000 and N series revenue. As for Oracle, despite continued R&D investment in its discrete ZFS Storage Appliance and Pillar Axiom storage platforms, users remain skeptical of the company’s long-range commitment to its ECB disk storage business.

In contrast, IDC’s report was more upbeat. “The external disk storage system market continues to exhibit steady growth, posting solid third quarter factory revenues of just over $5.9 billion,” said IDC’s Liz Conner, senior research analyst, Storage Systems. “Helping to drive the worldwide market in the third quarter was the double-digit growth in multi-protocol storage architecture and strong demand for upper mid-range and high-end storage.”

Gartner said the network-attached storage (NAS) segment (23.1%) grew 10.9%, but the block-access segment (76.2%), composed of storage area network (SAN) and direct-attached storage (DAS), increased only 1.6%. EMC (33.6%) was up 8.2%, IBM (11.9%) was down 5%, NetApp (10.8%) was up 4%, Hitachi (10.6%) showed the biggest gain at 18.1%, while HP (9%), Dell (7.2%) and Oracle (1.4%) all dropped, sandwiching Fujitsu (2.4%), which was up 8.3%.

IDC reported that the open networked disk storage market (NAS Combined with Open / iSCSI SAN) grew 4.7% year over year to just over $5.1 billion, with the Open SAN market up 4.4%, NAS up 5.7%, and iSCSI SAN up 6.9%. EMC (30%) held on to top spot, followed by NetApp (11.9%), IBM (11.7%), and Hitachi and HP (9.7% each).


Author: Steve Wexler

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