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Dell'Oro: Hyperscale DAS use drives storage revenue growth

Market research firm Dell’Oro Group’s mid-year snapshot showed that total storage systems revenue is on track to grow 1% in 2015, driven largely by sales to hyperscale service providers of direct-attached storage (DAS) devices for servers.

The Redwood City, California-based company said total storage systems revenue approached $10 billion in the second quarter – a 1% increase compared to the same time frame in 2014. Revenue for internal storage rose 3%, while sales in the larger external storage segment stayed flat in the quarter, as high-end systems continued to experience a year-to-year decline, according to the recently released Dell’Oro report.

EMC maintained the top spot for overall storage revenue through the first half of the year, and Hewlett-Packard (HP) was No. 2. IBM dropped from third place at the end of 2014 to fifth place in the aftermath of the sale of its x86 server line. Dell and NetApp were third and fourth respectively.

Rapidly growing Huawei snuck ahead of Hitachi into fifth place in total storage systems revenue for the second quarter, but Dell’Oro said Huawei often has a strong second quarter after a seasonally weak first quarter.

Dell’Oro’s numbers varied a bit from those released by IDC earlier this month. IDC put total disk storage sales at $8.8 billion for the second quarter for a 2.1 percent increase over the second quarter of 2014. IDC said external storage sales declined 3.9 percent. In vendor market share, IDC had IBM in fourth place ahead of NetApp. IDC agreed with Dell’Oro that hyperscale storage is growing rapidly, putting it at a 26 percent increase over the second quarter of 2014.

Flash continued to factor into a higher percentage of total capacity for both internal and external storage systems. Dell’Oro estimated that flash drives represented 8% to 10% of the total capacity of hybrid arrays, and nearly 75% of midrange and high-end external storage systems included some flash. Dell’Oro expects the percentage to approach 100 within a few years.

Shipments of Fibre Channel (FC) and Ethernet ports for networked external storage systems remained even at about 50% each, and Dell’Oro expects the breakdown to stay the same for at least the next year.

For FC, the big trend was 16 Gbps taking share from 8 Gbps, as 69% of the switch ports and more than 20% of the adapter ports shipped at the higher data transfer rate in the second quarter. But Dell’Oro said total SAN revenue, including FC switches and adapters, dropped 5% from the first to second quarters to $550 million (the lowest level since Q2 of 2009), and the 1.9 million in port shipments represented a 7% decrease.

Dell’Oro attributed the SAN revenue decline to the resurgence of DAS as well as new storage alternatives, such as scale-out architectures, software-defined storage, hyperconverged infrastructure and cloud storage. Ethernet-based storage has also grown, although it still trails block-based storage in revenue, Dell’Oro said.

With Ethernet storage networking, 40 Gbps made inroads on 10 Gbps, but Dell’Oro expects the 40 Gbps Ethernet pattern to be short-lived as options such as 50 Gbps, 75 Gbps and 100 Gbps emerge in future years.