Storage shipments keep surging, IDC says

Revenue grew more than 10 percent and capacity shipped increased 46.7 percent

Enterprises and service providers spent more money on storage in the second quarter, emboldened by growing IT budgets, research company IDC will report on Friday.

The boost in storage has come along with investments in cloud computing and data-center virtualization, IDC analyst Liz Conner said. Companies are updating their storage systems for the era of "big data," to deal with huge and growing volumes of information, she said.

The total market for disk storage systems grew just over 10 percent from last year's second quarter to reach almost US$7.5 billion in revenue, IDC said in its Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker. IDC defines disk storage systems as collections of three or more drives, either in or outside servers.

External disk storage grew 12.2 percent year over year to slightly more than $5.6 billion in factory revenue, IDC said.

The revenue gains came on top of strong results from last year's second quarter, when the industry was recovering from the recession of 2008-2009, Conner said. The total amount of capacity delivered also continued to rise, with total disk storage systems shipped in the quarter representing 5,353 petabytes of capacity, up 46.7 percent from a year earlier. In the second quarter of 2010, there were 3,645 petabytes sold, a 54.6 percent increase.

Sales increased across all major product categories, including NAS (network-attached storage) and all types of SANs (storage-area networks). The total market for non-mainframe networked storage systems, including NAS and iSCSI (Internet SCSI) SANs, grew 15.0 percent from a year earlier to $4.8 billion in revenue, IDC reported. EMC led that market with 31.9 percent of total revenue, followed by NetApp with a 15.0 percent share.

EMC also led in the open SAN market, which includes all varieties of SANs except mainframe systems. The company held 25.7 percent of that market, followed by IBM with 16.7 percent and HP with 13.4 percent, according to IDC.

Total revenue from all open SANs rose 14.3 percent year over year. Fibre Channel gear, the traditional SAN equipment that tends to be more expensive than other types, saw a rebound, Conner said.

"With IT budgets starting to loosen up ... we're seeing more Fibre Channel being sold," Conner said.

Sales of iSCSI SANs also grew strongly, up 21.0 percent by revenue. Dell led that market with 32.1 percent of total revenue, followed by EMC and HP.

NAS revenue increased 16.9 percent from a year earlier, and EMC dominated this market with 47.2 percent of revenue. NetApp came in second at 30.7 percent.

Among vendors, EMC had the strongest gains in both overall disk storage systems and in the external storage market, posting a 26 percent revenue increase. Oracle, which in 2009 acquired Sun Microsystems and its storage business, saw its revenue dive in both categories. Oracle has essentially reinvented Sun's storage business, discontinuing some Sun products to better focus on its Oracle Exadata Database Machine, which combines data warehousing and OLTP (online transaction processing), Conner said.

IDC is a division of International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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