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Making Sense of Storage Vendor Growth Comparisons
Figure 1 - Gartner ECB All Vendors

Making Sense of Storage Vendor Growth Comparisons

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Figure 1 - Gartner ECB All Vendors

Figure 1 – Gartner ECB All Vendors

Each quarter, Gartner produces a report listing their estimates on figures for sales of external storage arrays, otherwise known as “external controller-based” disk (ECB).  The figures for 3Q12 are just out and make interesting reading.  IBM, HP, Dell and Oracle are all down on their position 12 months ago, whilst the other vendors have seen growth, with the best figures coming from Hitachi/HDS.  This isn’t a surprise as HDS had detailed their positive growth figures at the Hitachi Influencers’ Day last month.

Gartner have been producing the quarterly survey for some time and I thought it would be interesting to look deeper into the figures to see what they show.  I’ve compiled all of the quarterly results since 1Q2009 and done a little number crunching.  Figure 1 shows the data for all vendors, including “other”, a combination of everyone else other than the top 8 vendors.  As the graph shows, EMC are way ahead in absolute terms and continue to deliver confident growth figures.  We need to remember that EMC continues to make acquisitions and the purchase of Isilon occurred right in the middle of these figures, which has a positive outcome on the results. (Other vendors have made acquisitions too).

Due to the scale of the difference between EMC and the rest of the field, it might be assumed by looking at the graph that all of the other vendors’ growth has remained quite flat, but that’s not the case.

Data In Relative Terms

Figure 2 - Gartner ECB Percent 2Yr - All

Figure 2 – Gartner ECB Percent 2Yr – All

If we look at the growth from 1Q2009 to 1Q2012, basing the figures on relative growth since 1Q2009 we see a very different picture.  Figure 2 shows the annual values for each vendor summed for the year.  We can see that in relative terms, NetApp grew faster than EMC although off a smaller base.  The figures for IBM, HP, Hitachi and Dell come in pretty close to each other and the real losers are Fujitsu and Oracle/Sun.  In fact, Oracle show a near 50% drop in their revenue over the three year period.  I doubt whether this is a surprise to anyone.  Figures for all the remaining vendors (the “others”) remained almost unchanged.  What’s amazing about these figures are the near straight line growth achieved by NetApp and EMC, at 80% and 60% respectively over two years, while other vendors saw only more modest growth.  Clearly most vendors took market share from Oracle and Fujitsu.

The presented figures show the annual values up to 1Q2012, which represent equivalent year-on-year figures.  Adding in the data to date (i.e. 3Q2012) we see that the picture has started to change.  As the figures for Y2012 aren’t complete, it isn’t fair to compare them with previous years, so figure three shows the relative values for each quarter from 1Q2009.  These are relative figures from the 1Q2009 starting point, rather than a quarter to quarter comparison.

None of the vendors other than Hitachi had a good last quarter.  NetApp and Dell declined quarter on quarter, with EMC, HP and IBM producing variable results.


The Architect’s View

Figure 3 - Gartner ECB 3 Yr to Date

Figure 3 – Gartner ECB 3 Yr to Date

In this analysis I’ve only looked at figures since 2009 and it would be easy to justify using a range of starting points.  However in the last 2 full years, NetApp and EMC have seen very strong growth, with Hitachi a close third.  The big loser in storage is Oracle.  Clearly the market has no confidence in either their products or perhaps their approach to customer service seen in the database part of their business.  Whatever the issue, Oracle is likely to soon fall into the “other” category and be irrelevant to the wider market, despite the Exadata hype.   Next quarter will mean three years’ worth of data and that will prove to be an interesting pivot point, especially for the EMC/NetApp battle.

About Chris M Evans

  • chriscowleysound

    The numbers for HDS do kind of stack up with the gut feeling I expressed in http://www.chriscowley.me.uk/blog/2012/12/17/what-will-hp-do-next/.

    As for Oracle, I know they still have a huge customer base, but I have another gut feeling that it is not just in storage that people are losing confidence in them. I think it is getting increasingly harder to justify the expense of their DB. The likes of Postgres and MySQL are equal in terms of performance/stability/toolset now. For those that want a vendor to point the finger at (it pains me to say this) MS SQL is looking increasingly strong.

    For someone who has been around IT since I was a boy, it would be a little weird to no longer have Oracle around, but maybe they could well go the way of Wordperfect in the next 10 years.

  • http://twitter.com/hansdeleenheer Hans De Leenheer

    Good one Chris. Does confirm some feelings. Something I noticed was in the last graph. We all know that Q4 always has some spikes in sales. One of the reasons is IT departments that need to get rid of budgets as they might get less budget next year if they didn’t need it all. Another reason is that the vendors tend to give a lot more effort (discounts?) in the end of the year to up they YoY sales numbers.

    What did strike me here is that IBM has a more extreme difference and it comes back every year. They have en extreme growth in Q4 and a classic dip in january and during the summer. What happens here? Do they take those Q4 “efforts” and keep things lying around the rest of the year? WOuld they be able to grow more if those actions were spread during the year? I never bought or worked with IBM so I am really curious how this comes.

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