Disk storage sales surged last year

External disk storage system sales worldwide grew 12 percent to $16 billion from the prior year, says IDC

An explosion of data and the availability of storage systems that can help businesses tackle data protection and business continuity issues drove a record year of growth for the disk storage systems market in 2005, according to an IDC report released Thursday.

External disk storage system sales worldwide jumped nearly 18 percent to $4.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2005 from the prior year-ago quarter, and for the year grew 12 percent to $16 billion from the prior year, IDC said.

"We've seen kind of blase growth since the bottom fell out in 2001; it's nice to see that throughout 2005 we were accelerating," said Brad Nisbet, program manager, IDC Storage Systems, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Sales of midrange systems, which IDC defines as priced between $50,000 and $149,999, were especially strong, said Nisbet.

"The sweet spot continues to be midrange products," Nisbet said. "A lot of the features and functionality once only in the high end has migrated its way down to lower segments of market. That combined with the fact that many midrange products offer multiple tiers of storage is driving the growth."

Multiple-tiered storage is helping users to address such challenges as data protection and business continuity, Nisbet said.

EMC held the lead in the external storage systems market in the fourth quarter, taking about 21 percent of the market. Behind EMC was Hewlett-Packard, with 18 percent, and IBM, with 16 percent, which both showed marked improvement from the prior year, Nisbet said.

"For some time, we had seen companies like EMC and Dell and NetApp that were the ones that stood out, while everyone else was lackluster and flatish year-over-year," Nisbet said. "It's nice to see HP and IBM in particular with good growth. IBM really turned themselves around and are executing well now, and the same can be said for HP."

The network disk storage market, which includes NAS (network-attached storage) and Open and iSCSI SANs (storage area networks), grew 24 percent to about $3 billion in the fourth quarter from the prior year-ago quarter. EMC led in that market, with about 27 percent share, followed by HP, with 20 percent, and IBM, with 14 percent.

Turning to the NAS market, revenue grew 23 percent in the quarter from the same year-ago period. EMC led that market as well with 40 percent share, followed by NetApp with 32 percent share.

The iSCSI SAN market soared 130 percent from the prior year's quarter to $94 million. NetApp led the market, with 26 percent share, followed by EMC with 21 percent share.

All told, the overall disk storage systems market grew about 11 percent to $23.7 billion in 2005. HP led the overall market with 23 percent share, followed by IBM with 20 percent, and EMC with 14 percent.

IDC is owned by International Data Group, the IDG News Service's parent company.