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Emulex, QLogic sales indicate splurge in storage spending *UPDATED*

Emulex offered the first hard evidence that storage spending picked up at the end of 2009, a year in which storage spending overall dropped significantly. And its HBA rival QLogic served up the second piece of evidence.

Emulex Monday evening said revenue from the fourth quarter would be around $107 million to $108 million, way above its previous forecast of $88 million to $92 million. The new forecast is slightly below Emulex’s fourth-quarter 2008 revenue of $109 million and up about 26% from the third quarter of 2009. Emulex said its HBA business grew about 28% from the previous quarter and its embedded switches revenue increased more than 20 percent.

Because Emulex HBAs and switches are sold inside storage systems from large vendors – its biggest OEM customers are IBM, Hewlett-Packard and EMC – its better-than-expected sales are seen as a sign of an industry-wide uptick.

“It seems customers flushed whatever little budgets they had for 2009,” Wedbush Securities analyst Kaushik Roy wrote today in a note to clients. “Emulex revenues are highly correlated to spending on storage systems and storage area networks, and our checks lead us to believe that the strength was fairly even across server and storage systems vendors.”

Today, QLogic said it too exceeded its previous forecast last quarter. QLogic’s updated guidance of revenue in the range of $147 million to $149 million represents a 12% to 13% surge from the previous quarter, and is above its earlier forecast of $134 million to $140 million.

Even before the HBA vendors updated their forecasts, Wall Street analysts were predicting a thaw in storage budgets.

A note issued by RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani last week forecasted a storage spending increase of around 7 percent or 8 percent this year – higher than overall IT spending – following an 8 percent drop in 2009.

“Given most organizations deferred much of the storage spend last year, we expect a relatively stronger 2010,” Daryanani wrote. “We expect IT storage spending to continue to shift toward networked storage at the expense of direct-attached storage. In addition, we believe network attached storage (NAS) will continue to grow at a faster clip than storage area network (SAN), given the relatively bigger surge in unstructured data creation.”

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