Is there no one to challenge EMC?

It’s been a busy, busy month for me.

And when the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker for 3Q12 came out last week, I was reading in awe how impressive EMC was at the figures that came out. But most impressive of all is how the storage market continue to grow despite very challenging and uncertain business conditions. With the Eurozone crisis, China experiencing lower economic growth numbers and the uncertainty in the US economic sectors, it is unbelievable that the storage market grew 24.4% y-o-y. And for the first time, 7,104PB was shipped! Yes folks, more than 7 exabytes was shipped during that period!

In the Top 5 external disk storage market based on revenue, only EMC and HDS recorded respectable growth, recording 8.7% and 13.8% respectively. NetApp, my “little engine that could” seems to be running out of steam, earning only 0.9% growth. The rest of the field, IBM and HP, recorded negative growth. Here’s a look at the Top 5 and the rest of the pack:

HP -11% decline is shocking to me, and given the woes after woes that HP has been experiencing, HP has not seen the bottom yet. Let’s hope that the new slew of HP storage products and technologies announced at HP Discover 2012 will lift them up. It also looked like a total rebranding of the HP storage products as well, with a big play on the word “Store”. They have names like StoreOnce, StoreServ, StoreAll, StoreVirtual, StoreEasy and perhaps more coming.

The Open SAN market, which includes iSCSI has EMC again at Number 1, with 29.8%, followed by IBM (14%), HDS (12.2%) and HP (11.8%). When combined with NAS numbers, the NAS + Open SAN market, EMC has 33.5% while NetApp is 13.7%.

Of course, it is just not about external storage because the direct-attached storage numbers count too. With that, the server vendors of IBM, HP and Dell are still placed behind EMC. Here’s a look at that table from IDC:

There’s a highlight of Dell in the table above. Dell actually grew by 4.0% compared to decline in HP and IBM, gaining 0.1%. However, their numbers seem too tepid and led to the exit of Darren Thomas, Dell’s storage group head honco. News of Darren’s exit was on TheRegister.

I also want to note that NAS growth numbers actually outpaced Open SAN numbers including iSCSI.

This leads me to say that there is a dire need for NAS technical and technology expertise in the local storage market. As the adoption of NFSv4 under way and SMB 2.0 and 3.0 coming into the picture, I urge all storage networking professionals who are more pro-SAN to step out of their comfort zone and look into NAS as well. The world is changing and it is no longer SAN vs NAS anymore. And NFSv4.1 is blurring the lines even more with the concepts of layout.

But back to the subject to storage market, is there no one out there challenging EMC in a big way? NetApp was, some years ago, recorded double digit growth and challenging EMC neck-and-neck, but that mantle seems to be taken over by HDS. But both are long way to go to get close to EMC.

Kudos to the EMC team for damn good execution!

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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

5 Responses to Is there no one to challenge EMC?

  1. Pingback: Is there no one to challenge EMC? « Storage Gaga

  2. Lee Johns says:

    Nice analysis of the market. Great comments on NAS. I wish Starboard Storage was a little closer to being able to launch in ASIA and bring a next generation unified hybrid storage platform to customers there. NAS and SAN should not be decision points for organizations. They should be able to run a single pool of storage for all workloads and thin provision both performance and capacity. That way they can deliver both on demand and automate the process to match the actuall demand they are seeing in the business real time.

    • cfheoh says:

      Hi Lee

      Great to hear from you again. Thanks for sharing your views.

      I can already see things changing, as the whole definition of SAN is changing. The silos of SAN is shifting towards storage pooling like LVMs, zpools or even ONTAP aggregates, but there’s more that. I believe the new generation of storage vendors such as Starboard Storage, Tintri, Nutanix, StorSimple, and many, many more are all challenging the well-oiled EMC machinery. NAS, at least in South East Asia, has been stereotyped and faces its own challenges.

      There’s certainly plenty of opportunity in Asia, and I believe there is a hunger to know more about new technology like Starboard. The empowerment of the new end-user is driving the need for vendors to be in the thick of the action. Coraid, Nimble Storage have landed in Asia recently. How about Starboard Storage?

      I would love to know more about what your deep core technology is and how it is different from the rest. Would you like to discuss further?

      Please contact me at

      Thank you

  3. I suggest you have a look at my post comparing vendors from that same data and historically previously. The rate of change rather than absolute figures are more useful.


    • cfheoh says:

      Hello Chris

      I apologize for taking such a long time to get to your comments. I have finally gone through the blog, and yes, I agree with you about looking at the rate of change.

      It still does not change much of what I perceive the top leaders are, which are EMC, NetApp and HDS. All have positive growths in the past 3-4 quarters. EMC partly because it has become the behemoth that it already is; NetApp, as I have called it in the past – “The little engine that could” and HDS, who had 2 strong quarters until their recent restructure which has slowed some of their momentum.

      But your input gave it a great different perspective, and that’s important because you gotta pick from all sources.

      Thank you and have a great week ahead!


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