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Boon Time for Storage Players

Storage

Enterprises may be cutting back on spending, but obviously not storage given worldwide disk storage systems grew to $6.9 billion in revenues for the second quarter of this year.

This mark is up 10 percent from second quarter 2007 with analysts attributing growth to better technology options.

The spike is the highest growth IDC research has seen in two years, and notable as growth was reported across various technology segments.

Worldwide external disk storage systems factory revenues posted 16.7 percent year-over-year growth totaling $5.1 billion in the second quarter, according to IDC's Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Quarterly Tracker report released today.

Every vendor is reaping rewards. EMC (NYSE: EMC) experienced 20 percent growth as compared with the second quarter of 2007, and Sun had a big quarter as well with its high-end StorageTek 9000 line showing a 70 percent increase year to year.

In a statement Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) said the growth is proof “its unique and open approach to storage is fast gaining acceptance with those that matter most -- our customers,” stated Jason Schaffer, senior director of Sun storage product management.

The news comes as IT spending comes under greater scrutiny given sluggish economics and rising operations costs such as power and cooling.

The growth is tied to increasing data that needs to be housed, and regulations on protecting and storing information, said IDC research analyst Natalya Yezhkova.

IDC said total disk storage systems capacity shipped reached 1,777 petabytes in the second quarter, an increase of 43.7 percent year over year.

"Those are the reasons we don't see a decline in demand for storage capacity. Data protection, fixed content and compliance are the big drivers, along with a general day-to-day data growth," Yezhkova told InternetNews.com.

"The second quarter was remarkable because of the ability of vendors to meet a variety of needs among customers with a diversity of products and initiatives," she said.

"As an example, we started seeing more entry-level products for servercentric environments, and products designed specifically for content-intensive environments, like Web 2.0 communities," Yezhkova explained.

"While some needs can be served with traditional products, there is more interest [and spending] for products designed for specific needs and environments," the analyst said.

But another industry watcher predicts such growth will subside as more tech budgets will crunch storage spend and foster greater storage efficiency.

"Information growth will not subside, but capital budgets will," Brian Babineau, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, told InternetNews.com.

"That means companies are going to have to find a way to store data more efficiently and make investments that support that strategy," Babineau said. "Technologies like thin provisioning and deduplication will probably be at the top of the budget lists during this difficult economic period."

While IDC doesn't track storage spending by types of application, Yezhkova doesn't believe growth is siphoning spend from new approaches such as cloud storage.

"I don't think there are areas that are being cut, but it's more about optimization of storage usage and increasing storage utilization rates. There is a lot of storage being deployed," said the analyst, adding that on the high-end front, it's with datacenter upgrades and expansion. On midrange and low-end, it's mostly driven by new installations, Yezhkova said.

EMC maintained its lead in the external disk storage systems market with 21.7 percent revenue share in the second quarter, followed by IBM and HP (NYSE: HPQ) in a statistical tie with 13.1 percent and 12.9 percent revenue share, respectively.

While Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) ended the quarter in fourth position it still showed a respectable 9.2 percent share. NetApp and Hitachi landed in a near tie for fifth place, with 8 and 7.6 percent revenue share, respectively.

Vendors in the total network disk storage market, which includes network attached storage (NAS) and open storage area networks (SAN), posted a 22 percent year-over-year growth in the second quarter for $3.8 billion in revenues. EMC again led, this time with 26.4 percent revenue share, followed by HP's 12.9 percent.

EMC also led the NAS market with a 39.8 percent growth year over year, followed by NetApp which reported a 28.5 percent share.

IDC said the iSCSI SAN market is showing strong momentum as well, having posted 93.9 percent revenue growth compared with the prior year's quarter. Dell led with 32.8 percent revenue share, followed by NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) and EMC with 14.6 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively.

According to IDC, Sun's storage growth story is nearly Cinderalla-like. Its growth was mainly tied to the 9900/9990 series, which at this time last year was actually being ramped down. But then Sun decided on a product refresh.

"Customers are finally investing in high-end purchases that they had been delaying due to economic uncertainty," Liz Conner, IDC analyst, told InternetNews.com.

The second hot spot for Sun was its Thumper system, which was up about 46 percent year to year.

"The real question is if Sun's growth is sustainable, or just a happenstance of various events this quarter," Conner said. "I have a funny feeling we won't see quite as good of a turnaround from the high end, but that Thumper should stay strong, although Sun's growth in the near term might show signs of unevenness."

Paul Shread contributed to this report.