ECB disk storage market slows in Q3 due to economic uncertainty – Gartner

Worldwide external controller-based (ECB) disk storage vendor revenue totaled $5.3 billion in the third quarter of 2012, a 3.6 percent increase from revenue of $5.1 billion in the third quarter of 2011, according to Gartner, Inc. The third quarter of 2012 was the 12th consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue growth.

“Reflecting the weak global macro economy, revenue growth in the third quarter of 2012 was the lowest annual growth rate over the past seven quarters, down 3.1 percentage points and 4.4 percentage points respectively from the second quarter 2012 and first quarter 2012 growth rates” said Roger Cox, research vice president at Gartner.

While not as robust as in the past, the network-attached storage (NAS) segment grew 10.9 percent, Gartner said.

The block-access segment composed of storage area network (SAN) and direct-attached storage (DAS) increased only 1.6 percent in third quarter 2012. The block-access SAN/DAS market segment represented 76.2 percent of the total ECB disk storage market in the third quarter of 2012. The NAS segment gained 1.5 points of share to represent 23.1 percent of the total ECB disk storage market in the third quarter of 2012.

Four vendors — Hitachi/Hitachi Data Systems, Fujitsu, EMC and NetApp — outgrew the market in the third quarter of 2012 (see Table 1). Hitachi/Hitachi Data Systems’ high-end VSP offering exhibited particular strength, while its midrange platforms achieved positive year-over-year growth for the first time in 2012. Fujitsu continued to emphasize its high-end and midrange Eternus brand storage platforms, gaining share in Europe, as well as in Japan. Even in a down market, EMC’s broad ECB disk storage portfolio enabled it to realize the greatest year-over-year market share gain. Recovering from a poor performance in the second quarter of 2012, NetApp showed signs of regaining its footing as market traction for its Cluster-Mode Data ONTAP and FlexPod offerings increased.

Dell, HP, IBM and Oracle face difficulties beyond global macroeconomic issues. Lack of significant presence in the high-growth NAS market segment, in conjunction with the abrupt Compellent Storage Center and EqualLogic PS Series revenue shortfall, the latter apparently due to changing go-to-market strategies resulting from executive leadership changes, contributed to Dell’s third quarter 2012 annual revenue drop-off, Gartner said.

Beyond the turmoil surrounding HP’s board of directors and associated corporate activities, HP faces additional headwinds. Over 43 percent of its ECB disk storage revenue comes from the weakest region: EMEA. In spite of the impressive 72 percent year-over-year increase in 3PAR StoreServ revenue, it alone is unable to offset the drag of legacy P9000 XP, P6000 EVA, P4000 SAN and P2000 MSA products, which collectively deteriorated 24.5 percent in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the third quarter of 2011, the researcher said.

Considering the breadth and competiveness of its ECB disk storage portfolio, IBM’s third quarter 2012 annual revenue decline is attributed in part to faulty field operation strategy and execution, as well as to the fall off in DS8000 series which is closely aligned with System z and Power System server sales, and midrange DS5000/3000 and N series revenue.

Despite continued R&D investment by Oracle in its discrete ZFS Storage Appliance and Pillar Axiom storage platforms, users remain skeptical of Oracle’s long-range commitment its ECB disk storage business.
Rebounding from the March 2011 tsunami disaster, vendor revenue in Japan increased 11.2 percent, followed by North America, Asia/Pacific and Latin America with only 5.7, 4.8, and 1 percent year-over-year growth in the third quarter 2012. Displaying broad economic uncertainty, EMEA declined 2.2 percent.