Gartner: 1Q Storage Hardware Sales Up, With EMC, NetApp, Dell Gaining Share

The worldwide market for external controller-based disk storage grew 8 percent in the first quarter of 2012 over last year, with three vendors -- EMC, NetApp and Dell -- outpacing their competitors to gain market share.

And of the eight vendors dominating the market, EMC was by far the winner not only because it had the largest market share but also because it grew the fastest, according to Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm Gartner.

In its quarterly report on the state of the external controller-based disk storage market, which includes storage hardware but not software or SAN equipment sales, Gartner reported total vendor revenue hit $5.4 billion in the first quarter, up 8 percent over the $5 billion reported in the first quarter of last year.

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Topping the list of the top vendors with about one-third of the entire market was Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC, which shipped about $1.8 billion worth of storage hardware, including hardware from several recent acquisitions including Data Domain, Avamar and Isilon.

EMC's storage revenue, which was more than the next two vendors' revenue combined, rose 16.5 percent over last year, a growth rate that well exceeded that of all its peers.

EMC in April during its first-quarter financial analyst call attributed its strong growth to a combination of across-the-board product growth related to cloud computing, big data and security, as well as to a fast-growing indirect sales channel presence. Sitting in its customary number two position is Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp, which Gartner said had revenue in the first quarter of $691.5 million, up a solid 9.8 percent over last year. That gave NetApp a 12.7-percent share of the overall market, up from its 12.5-percent share last year.

NetApp last month said in its quarterly analyst conference call that its indirect channel sales accounted for 80 percent of its total revenue in the quarter, the highest percentage ever attributed to the channel.

IBM, Armonk, N.Y., was number three thanks to revenue of $600.4 million, according to Gartner estimates. That was up a mere 1.5 percent over last year, giving IBM an 11.0-percent share of the market.

IBM's relatively flat quarter in storage meshed closely with the overall flatness in its business. IBM in April said in its quarterly analyst conference call that its first quarter 2012 was a decidedly mixed quarter that saw sales gains in software and some key areas such as cloud computing but little growth in services and decreased hardware sales.

NEXT: Updates On The Top Vendors

Japan-based Hitachi and its worldwide subsidiary Hitachi Data Systems maintained its number four position with revenue of $518.3 million in the first quarter. However, a relatively moderate 6.4-percent revenue growth helped bring Hitachi within striking distance of number three vendor IBM.

Hitachi's main growth came from its VSP (Virtual Storage Platform), in which Gartner estimated a 24.5 percent growth in sales over last year to boost its high-end enterprise market share by 6.3 percentage points.

Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Calif., like rival IBM, barely grew its storage hardware revenue over last year. Gartner estimated HP's storage hardware revenue grew a mere 1.7 percent to reach $491.5 million, giving it a 9-percent share of the entire market.

HP's second fiscal quarter results, which the company reported last month, included strong growth in software sales tempered by weak hardware sales, including storage.

HP's sales of its 3PAR storage technology were key to its growth. Gartner estimated sales of HP 3PAR grew 137.4 percent over last year, more than making up for declining sales of the company's EVA, P4000 LeftHand and P2000 MSA storage lines.

Dell, Round Rock, Texas, was one of the really bright spots, along with EMC and NetApp, in the storage hardware business during the first quarter. Gartner estimated Dell's storage hardware revenue rose 12.4 percent over last year to reach $431.4 million, giving it a 7.9-percent market share.

Gartner attributed 73.5 percent of Dell's storage hardware sales to the company's EqualLogic PS series and to the Compellent Storage Center platform, both of which were acquired by Dell as it weaned itself off its reseller relationship with its old partner and now bitter rival EMC.

Coming in at number seven was Japan-based Fujitsu, which Gartner said saw a 19.6-percent drop in storage hardware revenue over last year to $143.9 million. Fujitsu, which depends heavily on sales to its home market, suffered as the entire Japan market for storage declined 12.3 percent over last year, Gartner said.

Rounding out the top eight was Oracle, which saw its storage hardware revenue sales plummet 17.5 percent to $70.4 million. Even so, Oracle's NAS business grew 42.9 percent over last year thanks to the strength of its ZFS file system-based appliance family, Gartner said.