EMC Remains Atop External Storage Market

When the industry tallies the final numbers for 2001, EMC will remain the leading provider of external storage systems—a position it has held for the past 5 years—according to a new report from International Data Corporation (IDC). In its 2001 Disk Storage Forecast and Analysis, IDC researchers project that EMC will continue to be at the top of the list of Storage Area Network (SAN) suppliers (when measured by revenue) and of the overall RAID market. And for the first time, EMC will emerge as the leading supplier in the rapidly growing Network Attached Storage (NAS) sector.

IDC predicts that in 2001, EMC will hold 37.9 percent of the SAN market (when measured by revenue), almost 20 points more than its nearest competitor, IBM, which reportedly holds an 18.2 percent share. In the total external RAID market, which includes storage systems connected to any computer OS or network, IDC projects that EMC will control 25.3 percent of the market by revenue, more than the combined shares of the next two competitors. EMC is the leading supplier of storage systems to the UNIX market and the number-one supplier to the Windows NT market (once again when measured by revenue). Earlier market-research reports also give EMC the lead for RAID systems in the OS/390 and Sun Solaris environments.

But the big news is that EMC might pass Network Appliance in the NAS market. In August 2000, EMC President Joe Tucci predicted that EMC would emerge as the market leader in that sector, and according to IDC, EMC has done so, claiming a 42.3 percent share. According to Gartner, Network Appliance held more than 60 percent of the NAS market in 2000, compared to EMC's 21 percent. Analysts expect the NAS market to grow from $1.62 billion in 2000 to $1.84 billion in 2001.

The IDC report suggests that EMC is strongest in the fastest-growing storage-market areas. IDC projects that the revenues that network storage (which includes both SAN and NAS) generates will climb from $7.5 billion in 2000 to $8.1 billion in 2001; revenues from Direct Attached Storage (DAS) will plummet 32 percent in 2001. EMC is the only supplier with more than a 5 percent market share in both NAS and SAN. IDC believes that SAN and NAS configuration will account for more than half of all disk-storage systems sold in 2003 and 66 percent of the market in 2005. The IDC numbers are generally in line with an earlier report from Gartner that also placed EMC at the top of the SAN and NAS markets.

But despite EMC's seemingly overpowering presence across the storage market, its competitors seem unbowed. In fact, IBM officials touted the IDC finding that it was the only external disk-storage-system vendor to experience growth in 2001. When the year ends, IBM will have moved from holding 7.8 percent of the market (as measured by revenue) to 12.2 percent, according to IDC. IBM gained ground in every sector, climbing from number four to number two in the SAN market and from number seven to number three in the NAS arena. In part, IBM has benefited from the focus the company has placed on its Shark Enterprise Storage Server, IDC analyst John McArthur noted.

And although EMC is the 800-pound gorilla in big-ticket storage systems, the market is broadening. Last summer, Compaq claimed the top spot in the SAN arena (when measured by units) with 48.5 percent of the market, according to a Gartner study. In that study, Sun Microsystems was the second-leading supplier, followed by Dell, EMC, and Hewlett Packard (HP). IBM held a scant 2 percent share.

As with IDC, Gartner analysts believe that SAN is poised to be the dominant technology for storage in larger organizations. Gartner analysts forecast that SAN will grow from holding 16.3 percent of the multi-user storage market in 2000 to 70.7 percent in 2005. "The enterprise storage space is currently going through a significant redefinition, in terms of what customers are buying," said Roger Cox, chief analyst with Gartner. "Companies that maintain clear leadership in the SAN arena will end up dominating the entire storage market."

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