External disk storage shipments increase 46% in Q1

Nearly 5 petabytes of capacity shipped

Sales of external disk storage systems continue to boom with a fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue gains, according to market research firm IDC.

In its Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker, IDC reported that in the first quarter of this year system revenue totalled $5.6 billion. That represents 13.2% year-over-year growth.

Total disk storage systems capacity shipped reach 4,956 petabytes in the quarter, representing a 46.3% increase from the same period in 2010.

"The worldwide disk storage market is off to a strong start in 2011," Amita Potnis, a senior research analyst for storage systems at IDC, said in a statement. "Although the market declined sequentially in the first quarter, due to a seasonal budget flush in Q4, year-over-year growth can be seen as end-users are taking advantage of easing budget constraints while adopting new capabilities available in the market."

EMC continued to lead the pack in sales, IDC said, with 27.3% revenue share in the quarter, followed by NetApp and IBM with 13.5% and 12.2%, respectively. HP finished the quarter in fourth place, with 10.5% of the revenue share; Hitachi was fifth with 9%.

The IP-based storage market also saw strong growth. Network-Attached Storage (NAS) sales continued to soar with a 27.1% year-over-year growth in revenues. EMC also continued to lead that market, with 48.8% of revenue share. NetApp was nxt with 30.8% of the share.

The Internet-SCSI (iSCSI) SAN market posted 23% revenue growth compared to the first quarter in 2010; Dell led that market with 32.9% revenue share. HP lead EMC slightly in iSCSI SAN sales with 14.4% and 14.2% market share, respectively.

EMC maintained its leadership in the total open networked storage market with 30.8% revenue share, followed by NetApp with a 16.1% revenue share.

In the Open SAN market, which grew 13.4% year over year, EMC also led, with 22.7% revenue share, followed by IBM and HP with 14.8% and 13.4%, respectively.

IDC also breaks out a category that it calls "open networked disk storage," which includes NAS with "open" iSCSI. That combined market grew 17.3% in the first quarter to $4.7 billion in revenues.

Steve Duplessie, founder and lead analyst of Enterprise Strategy Group, said NAS and iSCSI are usually thought of as mutually exclusive technologies. That said, iSCSI is just riding the wave of acceptance because it's finally been accepted as a legitimate storage standard, "and it's way cheaper than a Fibre Channel SAN, he said.

"The growth in NAS is just indicative of data growth in general. And data growth today is all file," he said. "That number should be coming up faster than anything else for the foreseeable future."

EMC also maintained its lead in the open networked storage market, with 30.8% revenue share, followed by NetApp with 16.1%.

In the Open SAN market, which grew 13.4% year over year, EMC was the leading vendor with 22.7% revenue share, followed by IBM in second and HP in third with 14.8% and 13.4%, respectively.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

Read more about storage in Computerworld's Storage Topic Center.

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