The disk-based storage market experienced strong growth in the third quarter, fueled in part by a surge in sales of enterprise-class storage arrays and in NAS and iSCSI appliances, according research firm IDC.
Overall storage sales for the quarter hit $4.3 billion worldwide, up 9.9 percent year over year, while total storage capacity sold grew 50.2 percent to reach 783 petabytes, IDC said Friday.
Hewlett-Packard kept its lead of the overall disk-based storage market, followed by IBM, based on sales that include storage sold externally and internally for servers. However, when server-based storage is excluded, EMC continues to lead the market, with sales up 18 percent over last year, giving it a market share of 21.4 percent, IDC said.
In the external disk-based storage market, HP followed EMC with a market share of 17.6 percent after an anemic growth of only 1.8 percent over last year. IBM followed with a 13.7 percent share, with Dell, Hitachi, Network Appliance and Sun Microsystems rounding out the top seven vendors.
Of the top seven vendors, only NetApp enjoyed faster growth, with sales up 18.9 percent over last year's third quarter. IBM's sales grew 14.3 percent, IDC said.
A big part of EMC's growth was in its Symmetrix enterprise-class storage line, which saw sales grow about 20 percent over last year, compared with a 10 percent growth in sales of its midrange Clariion storage, said Brad Nisbet, program manager with IDC's storage systems program.
The No. 2 vendor in external storage, HP, saw a similar situation. Overall sales rose only 1.8 percent for the year, according to IDC. However, sales of HP's high-end XP family climbed about 14 percent, while sales of its entry-level MSA line fell about 14 percent, Nisbet said.
IBM's DS8000 enterprise storage and its midrange storage lines saw sales gain by about 14 percent, Nisbet said.
The shift to larger, enterprise-class storage sales, which other vendors experienced to a lesser degree, in part stems from a sales cycle between midrange and enterprise storage sales and an upswing in the use of virtualization, which parallels that of the server space, Nisbet said.
In the server and storage markets, businesses over the past several years have moved to lower-cost, smaller solutions, but eventually management of so many smaller devices got out of control, Nisbet noted. "Virtualization favors the deployment of larger systems," he said.
That trend is expected to continue into the current quarter, he added. "We'll see what happens to the high end in the fourth quarter," he said. "This is the 'Big Iron Quarter,' where a lot of corporate budgets get flushed out. A lot of vendors also push enterprise-class storage this quarter."
In the NAS market, the continuing battle between EMC, with 38.1 percent of the market, and NetApp, with 30.2 percent market share, has moved to a new front. IBM, which last year signed an agreement to resell all of NetApp's hardware and software products, saw its NAS sales surge to $20 million this quarter, up from about $2 million last year.
Despite the increase in sales via IBM, NetApp lost ground to EMC, with NetApp-branded sales this quarter growing only 7.8 percent, compared with EMC's growth of 18.6 percent, IDC said.
But when looking at the open SAN market, which includes the fast-growing iSCSI sector, NetApp had the fastest growth of the top seven vendors, with sales growing 50.7 percent year over year for the quarter. EMC was still No. 1, with growth of 22.2 percent, followed by HP, IBM, Hitachi, Dell, Sun Microsystems and NetApp.
"NetApp was the first or one of the first out the door with an iSCSI target array," Nisbet said. "The numbers speak to NetApp's functionality and its ability to offer multiple protocols in one box. It's very easy for a customer to deploy. The NetApp iSCSI license itself is free of charge."