Smackdown Over Storage Market Share

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

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

Chris Saul, Shark OEM marketing programs manager at IBM, says IBM was able to take share from EMC due to its broader range of solutions for customers. “EMC offers a storage box while IBM offers a complete solution,” Saul says. IBM has servers, software and services to sell along with storage units. Analysts have traditionally seen the tie-in of server vendors who sell storage as a mixed blessing. The one-stop shopping vendor has a good chance of making a storage sale with their other customers but faces challenges breaking into accounts where competitors are selling the servers and solutions.

Saul also contends 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 in 1999. “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 the meat of the storage market, but Compaq sees it slightly differently. When internal and external storage is included, Compaq can claim the leadership role. According to the IDC statistics, Compaq leads all vendors in the most inclusive definitions of storage. “You have to go back to ‘What are customers buying?” says Mark Stouce, director of global communications for Compaq enterprise storage group. Stouce says shipping disk drives -– regardless of the package –- is the thrust of the storage market.

EMC may see its market share erode further as customers look to broader solutions, rather than products. The IDC report says EMC will lose more than three percentage points of market share.