IDC Releases its Q4 2008 Storage Scorecard

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IDC put out a news release recently about its Q4 External Disk Storage Systems report. The headline was a bit gloomy to say the least and drove some media and blogging coverage here, here and here.

Let me give you my take on it.

Dell’s strategic investments over the last few years have been closely tied to our vision of simplifying IT – making storage simple, capable and affordable for our customers. It’s clear to me from this release that customers are voting with their wallets and that they agree with us.

From the IDC release, let me pull out a few bullet points:

  • Among the top five suppliers, Dell was one of only two companies that posted strong year-over-year revenue growth during the fourth quarter of CY2008, with 10.0 percent growth;
  • The iSCSI SAN market continues to show strong momentum, posting 61.6 percent revenue growth compared to the prior year's quarter. Dell led the market with 35.3 percent revenue share, followed by EMC with 16.8 percent;
  • From my vantage point it appears that the slowest growing portion of the market is at the high-end of the market – the entry-level space is growing just fine.

Obviously, a lot of this success is tied to our EqualLogic acquisition (Note that IDC began reporting Dell and EqualLogic as a combined entity in the first quarter of CY2008). It’s also tied to the fact that our line of Dell PowerVault products also addresses a lot of the issues that customers are still spending their IT dollars to solve.

However, there’s much more to it than just that. Dell’s storage strategy has been about investing in areas that provide the greatest value for our customers. You’ve seen this with our long-time focus on iSCSI as a technology that lowers acquisition and deployment costs of SANs. The EqualLogic acquisition itself was a strong statement of our belief that enterprise class capabilities should be easy to deploy, but more importantly easy to manage a grow.

I see three factors converging:

First, current economic realities are causing customers to re-evaluate ALL purchases, and storage is no exception. With that, we are seeing an increased migration to iSCSI arrays.  Customers are looking to save money and iSCSI allows them to do that with little or no performance trade-off. In fact with EqualLogic’s unique scaling architecture, we are seeing even higher performance than many competing Fibre Channel arrays!  iSCSI has proven itself from the entry to the higher end of the enterprise. It’s available on all Dell primary storage offerings:  PowerVault, Dell/EMC and EqualLogic.

Second, customers are looking for the highest value products – products that save not just on acquisition cost, but importantly on-going management costs. It’s not all about value, simplicity and capability. With EqualLogic we offer all-inclusive software capabilities that allow us to come in at a fraction of competing solutions when comparing equivalent capabilities (like thin provisioning, asynchronous replication and snapshot integration with many popular applications).  Recently we announced our unique approach to de-duplication, which allows customers to save money by eliminating duplicate copies of data.

Third, customers continue to look to vendors with the broadest possible portfolios.  We recently expanded our agreement with EMC to include Celerra and enhanced our professional services.

So, as dire as the IDC headline initially reads, we think there’s some goodness buried deep in the release that needs to be discussed – one that we think is good for customers.

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