The storage industry continues to be immune to economic difficulties with double-digit growth in the second quarter compared to last year, according to IDC.
The strong growth in storage is especially apparent in the major storage-only vendors, fueled in large part by recent acquisitions which are helping them increase their market shares.
IDC on Friday released its second quarter 2011, "Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Quarterly Tracker" report, in which it estimated the worldwide external disk storage systems market grew 12.2 percent to $5.6 billion.
IDC also estimated that worldwide total disk storage system revenue grew 10.2 percent to $7.5 billion over last year.
The total disk storage system revenue includes storage sold as part of a storage array or mounted in a server, while the external disk storage systems revenue counts only storage sold as part of a storage system with three or more disks.
Total disk storage system capacity shipped during the second quarter grew 46.7 percent over last year to reach 5,353 petabytes, IDC estimated.
EMC was the big winner in the second quarter both in terms of market share and in sales growth. IDC estimated EMC's storage revenue reached $1.6 billion, up 26.0 percent over the same period as last year. That growth made it the top vendor in both the external disk storage systems and the total disk storage systems markets.
EMC for the first time also overtook Hewlett-Packard as the leading vendor in the total disk storage systems market. HP had traditionally been the leader in this part of the market thanks to the strength of its server sales and the storage that was configured in servers at the time of sale.
EMC's new strength comes from several moves, said Liz Conner, senior research analyst at IDC. This includes EMC's release earlier this year of its VNX SMB and VNXe entry-level storage systems, which gave the company the opportunity to expand its business into a whole new area of the market, Conner said. EMC's acquisition early this year of Isilon has also contributed to its growth, she said.
HP still did very well in the second quarter, dropping to second place in the total storage market after growing 10.1 percent over last year, and maintaining its fourth-place position in the external storage market with growth of 9.1 percent.
HP has done very well with its acquisition last September of 3Par, which has grown faster under HP than it did as an independent company, Conner said. "We're seeing a bit of a decline in HP's EVA storage," she said. "But that's to be expected, as HP is putting out a more balanced approach to storage."
NetApp, the second-largest independent storage vendor after EMC, enjoyed growth of 25.7 percent over last year to $771 million. That growth helped it close the gap with IBM for the number two spot in the external storage race with $720 in revenue compared to IBM's $771 million. IBM also had a good quarter, with revenue up 13.4 percent, but that was only about half the growth rate of NetApp.
NetApp's growth also kept it among the top five total storage vendors, bringing it to within striking distance of Dell, IDC said.
Hitachi and Hitachi Data Systems saw its storage revenue grow by 23.3 percent, giving it the fourth-place position in the external storage market, where it overtook Dell for the first time. However, Hitachi did not appear in the top five in terms of total storage sales.
Next: Acquisitions Making A Difference For Major Vendors
Dell was the only major vendor to see sales drop over last year, as its move away from reselling EMC's storage lines while concentrating on its own storage brands including its recent Compellent acquisition continued. Dell's external disk storage sales fell 5.9 percent to $444 million, while strong server sales helped keep its total storage sales drop to a tiny 0.1 percent.
HP, Dell, EMC, and NetApp all had big acquisitions which helped them grow their storage business over last year, Conner said. And, for HP, Dell, and EMC, the acquired companies seemed to have grown much faster than if they would have stayed independent, she said.
"These large vendors are seeing things in smaller companies, including new technologies they have not developed in-house," she said. "And for the smaller companies, they're getting a lot of exposure for their products that was not there for them before."