Smackdown Over Storage Share

With the release of a new IDC report on storage marketshare, vendors are scrambling to claim victory. IBM Corp., EMC Corp., andCompaq Computer Corp. all have claims to the storage crown.

EMC remains the titan in high-end external storage unitswith 21.6% of the market. However, IBM, and others have eroded this marketshare. It dropped from 25.6% last year. IBM was the only vendor to gain marketshare this year, gaining 4.4 percentage points to 12.2% of the market.

Chris Saul, Shark OEM marketing programs manager atIBM, says IBM’s growing share is due to its broader support for customers. “IBMjust offers a better value than EMC,” he says, “EMC offers a storage box whileIBM offers a complete solution.” IBM ensures its storage products complementits entire server line and offers a range of services to aid customers deployits products.

Services, which is one of the few growing segments ofthe IT industry, might be one factor leading to IBMs gain on EMC. Saul saysthat global services may help IBM sell Shark and other external storage unitsbecause of support at installation.

Finally, Saul believes the attention given to Shark,IBM’s flagship storage array helps create mindshare for IBM’s other products.Saul says IBM’s market share began to improve with the introduction of Shark in1999. “People pay more attention to IBM and what we have to say about storage,”he says.

IBM and EMC see large, external storage units as themeat of the storage market, but Compaq sees it slightly differently. Wheninternal and external storage is included, Compaq can claim the leadershiprole. According to the IDC statistics, Compaq leads all vendors in the most inclusivedefinitions of storage. “You have to go back to ‘what are customers buying?”says Mark Stouce, director of global communications for Compaq enterprisestorage group. Stouce believes that shipping disk drives – regardless of thepackage – is the thrust of the storage market.

IBM’s Saul is a little more skeptical about the totalstorage numbers. “Usually when people think of the storage market, they’rereally thinking of the external storage market,” he says. When enterprises buya server with a disk drive, they’re choosing a server, not a disk drive.

Stouce believes EMC’s reputation as a storagejuggernaut is unfounded. Rather than representing the storage segment, it gainsrecognition for its specialized proprietary devices. “We are the leader now,”he says.

EMC may see its market share erode further as customerslook to broader solutions, rather than products. The IDC report says EMC willlose more than three percentage points of market share. Compaq is more thanhappy to pick up the slack. “The other area we’re kicking their butt issoftware sales,” Stouce says.

Stouce attributes Compaq’s purported dominance of thestorage market to a difference in philosophy. “EMC is fundamentally geared tobe a proprietary company,” he says. Like IBM, EMC is focused on sellingmonolithic products, while Compaq takes technologies from a variety of vendorsto create a solution. “For 20 years, our DNA has been about openness andinteroperability,” Stouce says. The open approach, he believes, helps Compaqserve the storage market. -Chris McConnell