Gartner's Q4 2013 Storage Report: How The Vendors Did

Q4 Storage Market Shows Good Growth: Gartner

Worldwide external controller-based disk storage revenue in the fourth quarter of 2013 reached $6.3 billion, according to the latest quarterly report from Gartner, which was released earlier this week.

That represented a 5 percent growth over the $6 billion Gartner reported for same period last year.

The fourth quarter represented a return to growth after what Roger Cox, research vice president at Gartner, termed an "abysmal" third quarter.

"Driven by pent-up demand and the year-end budget flush phenomenon, the market overcame a fragile global economy and grew a strong 5 percent over the same period in 2012," Cox said in a statement.

Gartner Rankings, Numbers Similar To IDC's

The Gartner report comes 10 days after research firm IDC released its estimates of what it terms the worldwide external disk systems market for the fourth quarter of 2013.

While the IDC estimates for EMC, IBM and Hitachi/HDS are similar to those of Gartner, the IDC numbers for NetApp and HP are considerably higher than their Gartner counterparts. Interestingly, NetApp and HP are two of the three fastest-growing vendors year over year, according to both firms, a fact that may have impacted how both read those companies numbers.

Moderate Growth For All Of 2013

For all of 2013, worldwide external controller-based disk storage revenue rose a slim 1.4 percent to reach $22.5 billion, Gartner reported.

EMC remains the leading storage vendor with revenue of $7.7 billion in 2013, up 3.7 percent over 2012. More than one-third of the entire market is controlled by EMC.

IBM was the second-largest vendor despite a 3.7 percent drop in revenue. It was followed by NetApp at No. 3, with revenue up by 6.3 percent, and HP at No. 4 due to a 6.1 percent increase. Hitachi, Dell and Oracle all saw revenue decreases in 2013, while Fujitsu at No. 7 enjoyed a 5.9 percent boost.

EMC: Still The King

EMC, along with HP, was the rare storage vendor to see its worldwide external controller-based disk storage revenue grow faster than the market as a whole, giving it a boost in market share to 36 percent in the fourth quarter, Gartner reported.

EMC's strength came from its broad external controller-based storage portfolio, as well as from the success of its VNX and Data Domain product refreshes, the research firm reported.

IBM: Uncertain Future

IBM was the second-largest external controller-based disk storage vendor in the fourth quarter at $900 million, but that represented a 7.8 percent drop over the same period last year.

Gartner reported that IBM has gained traction in the IP-based disk storage market, but that it was not enough to offset the drop in sales of IBM storage gear based on technology sourced from NetApp.

Going forward, IBM's storage sales could be negatively impacted by IBM's move to sell its entry-level server business to Lenovo given that, for system vendors in general, a big part of storage sales is tied to sales of their servers.

NetApp: Third-Place Showing At Risk

NetApp's third-quarter 2013 external controller-based disk storage revenue grew to $658.1 million, letting it keep its No. 3 position in the Gartner rankings. However, with a quarterly growth rate of only 3.3 percent, that position could be at risk if HP continues its meteoric growth rate.

Gartner said NetApp's growth in the quarter came from increasing traction of storage based on the NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP operating system.

HP: Fastest-Growing Vendor In Q4

HP's external controller-based disk storage revenue grew 25.3 percent in the fourth quarter compared with last year, which was faster than any other major storage vendor's growth, Gartner reported.

As a result, HP revenue hit $600.7 million, or just $58 million less than that of NetApp, giving HP a chance to take the No. 3 position assuming its future growth continues to exceed that of the rest of the industry.

Gartner cited broad acceptance of HP 3Par storage solution and the HP StoreOnce disk-based backup platforms as the key behind HP's blistering growth.

Hitachi/HDS: Slipping To No. 5

Hitachi and its subsidiary Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) saw its external controller-based disk storage revenue fall 4.8 percent to $549.1 million. That slide, combined with HP's high-speed storage revenue rise, caused Hitachi and HDS to give up its former No. 4 spot to its rival.

Dell: Hit By Uncertainty

Dell's fourth-quarter 2013 external controller-based disk storage revenue fell 14.4 percent to $336.6 million, giving the company the dubious distinction of suffering the biggest drop of all major vendors for the quarter.

Dell's storage revenue fell in part due to uncertainty from Dell's move to become a private company, Gartner reported. In addition, an increase in Dell Compellent storage sales was not enough to overcome a drop in the sales of its other product lines, Gartner wrote.

Huawei: Up-and-Comer

China-based Huawei jumped onto Gartner's list of the top external controller-based disk storage vendors for the first time with sales of $120.1 million.

Huawei Enterprise, which includes the company's storage, server and networking business, has been pressing hard to develop a U.S. market after closing a joint venture the company had in the past with Symantec.

Fujitsu: Doing Well Outside The U.S.

Gartner reported that strength in its home country of Japan and increasing sales in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region were big boosts to Fujitsu, which was able to leverage both to increase its fourth-quarter 2013 external controller-based disk storage revenue by 4.6 percent to $102.8 million.

Oracle: Great Tech, Poor Sales

Oracle continued to bleed in the external controller-based disk storage market in the fourth quarter of 2013, with sales slipping 14 percent to $60 million.

Gartner reported that Oracle's technology was not at fault, with the Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance remaining a competitive offering from a technology perspective. Instead, Gartner wrote that Oracle's declining revenue was due more to "inadequate market coverage."