Storage-Focused Vendors Continue Grabbing Bigger Share Of Storage Market: Gartner

Storage-focused vendors including EMC, NetApp and Hitachi far outperformed their server peers in fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 storage hardware sales, both in terms of total sales and sales growth, according to a new report from Gartner.

The storage industry saw external controller-based disk storage sales of $6.0 billion for the fourth quarter of 2012, up 1.9 percent over the same period of 2011, according to Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner. That low fourth-quarter growth, which Gartner said resulted from economic slowdowns worldwide, was a bit of a drag on sales for all of 2012, which reached $22.3 billion, up 4.9 percent over 2011.

Gartner's report on 2012 external storage sales, released Thursday, was somewhat out of alignment with that of rival analyst firm IDC, which two weeks ago reported external storage sales for the fourth quarter rose 2.3 percent to $6.7 billion.

[Related: Reports: 2012 Server Revenue Down, Shipments Mixed ]

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EMC remains the leading vendor of external controller-based disk storage, accounting for about one-third of the market in the fourth quarter and all of 2012, Gartner wrote.

EMC also was the company that saw the greatest growth during the year, with sales of disk storage systems rising 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 10.7 percent for the year, or well over twice the overall market growth.

At the other end of the large, name-brand storage vendor spectrum was Oracle, which saw its sales plummet 23.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 11.0 percent for all of 2012.

EMC's external disk storage sales hit $2.1 billion in the fourth quarter, up 6.7 percent over last year. Sales for the entire year hit $7.4 billion, up 10.7 percent for all of 2012, Gartner wrote.

IBM kept its traditional No. 2 spot in the fourth quarter with sales of $977 million, down 0.1 percent over fourth-quarter 2011, giving Big Blue a 16.2 percent market share. For all of 2012, IBM's external controller-based disk storage sales fell 1.4 percent over last year to $3.0 billion.

EMC archrival NetApp remained at No. 3 for the fourth quarter, with sales up 2.8 percent over last year to reach $637 million. For all of 2012, sales were up 2.4 percent to $2.5 billion.

NEXT: Beyond The Top Three Storage Vendors

Breathing down NetApp's neck was the other top storage-focused vendor, Hitachi, and its better-known subsidiary, Hitachi Data Systems. Hitachi and HDS saw sales rise 2.2 percent to $570 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. However, for all of 2012, sales rose 7.0 percent to $2.1 billion, a growth rate that gives it the potential to catch up with NetApp within the next few years.

The year 2012 was a tough one for Hewlett-Packard, which is currently transitioning much of its storage sales from several disjointed legacy architectures to focusing on its 3PAR offering. HP's fourth-quarter sales dropped 13.7 percent to $479 million, while its full-year sales dropped 5.2 percent to $2.0 billion, Gartner wrote.

Dell was the relative bright spot among server vendors with a major storage offering. Gartner said Dell's external controller-based disk storage sales fell 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter to $393 million, but rose 1.9 percent to $1.6 billion for all of 2012.

Rounding out the list of top storage vendors were Fujitsu, down 9.8 percent in the fourth quarter and 3.1 percent for all of 2012, and Oracle, which saw a huge drop, Gartner said.

Dell, HP and IBM saw good increases in sales of newly introduced storage systems in 2012, but that was not enough to offset declines in sales of those products that were being replaced by the newer offerings, Gartner said.