External disk storage systems saw big year-over-year growth in the first quarter of 2012, with revenues rising 7.1 per cent or $6 billion, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker. More than six petabytes of capacity shipped during the quarter.

EMC continued to lead in external disk storage system sales with 29 per cent of the overall revenue share in the first quarter, followed by NetApp with 14.1 per cent of the market. IBM followed with 11.4 per cent, and Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi Data Systems ended the quarter with 10.2 per cent and 9.4 per cent market shares, respectively.

The NAS market declined 1.9 per cent year over year. EMC led in NAS sales with 42.6 per cent revenue share, followed by NetApp with 36.4 per cent. The iSCSI SAN market continued to show strong sales with 17.6 per cent revenue growth compared to the same quarter in 2011. Dell led the iSCSI SAN market with 33 per cent revenue share, followed by EMC and NetApp with 18.9 per cent and 13.7 per cent market shares, respectively.

Even though monsoonal flooding in Thailand shut down manufacturing facilities last year and caused hard disk drive shortages, the external storage systems market remains strong, said IDC analyst Liz Conner. Hardest hit were entry-level systems that have an average selling price of less than $25,000. Those system sales suffered most because they typically use serial ATA (SATA) or lower-priced near-line serial SCSI (SAS) drives, which experienced the highest price increases due to the flooding.

"However, strong overall growth in emerging regions and the slowdown in price-per-gigabyte erosion helped the market post year-over-year growth," Conner said.

IHS iSuppli released a report earlier this week that predicted hard drive prices will remain high and are unlikely to fall to pre-flood levels until 2014.

In the wake of the flooding, hard drive prices rose to an average of $66 in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 28 per cent jump from the $51 average price in the previous quarter, according to IHS iSuppli. The average price held steady at $66 in the first quarter of 2012 and is expected to decline only marginally, to about $65, in the second quarter, IHS iSuppli said.

IDC analyst Amita Potnis said the high-end storage segment, which is represented by systems with price tags north of $250,000, remained flat year over year and declined 13 per cent sequentially in the first quarter of 2012.

"The high-end segment grew significantly in 2010 and 2011 owing to the loosened storage budgets after the economic crisis of 2009. IDC believes that the softened growth in the high-end segment this quarter is reflective of what will be a long-term trend," Potnis said.

Open Networked Disk Storage Systems

The open networked disk storage market, which includes Open SANs, iSCSI SANs and NAS systems, grew 8.5 per cent year over year in the first quarter with $5.1 billion in revenues, according to IDC. EMC maintained its lead there with 32.2 per cent revenue share, followed by NetApp with a 16.4 per cent.

The Open SAN market, which includes Fibre Channel, iSCSI, Fibre Channel over Ethernet, InfiniBand and switched SAS, showed 13 per cent year-over-year growth in the first quarter. EMC also lead that market with 28.3 per cent revenue share, followed by IBM and HP with 13.8 per cent and 12.3 per cent market shares, 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 [email protected].

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