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HDS’s Yoshida: Storage headed for a “bust”

Hitachi Data Systems CTO Hu Yoshida has an interesting post up on his blog that predicts storage is headed for a “bust” period in terms of petabytes shipped per year. He’s basing this in part on IDC’s recent numbers which show that server shipments are down thanks to virtualization. Yoshida predicts a similar boom in storage virtualization will improve utilization on storage arrays, staving off additional shipments of disk in the coming years.

Yoshida writes:

In 1999 we had a 100% growth in 1999 during the tail end of the dot com boom and the run up to Y2K. In 2000 and 2001, we saw the rate of capacity growth slow down sharply as the industry went through a period of consolidation after the excesses of the boom and Y2K preparation. I believe we are in a boom cycle now and are headed for another bust.

I believe we are ready for another round of storage consolidations, which will drive the growth rate down below 50%.

He’s got a point: the name of the game in storage currently is consolidation and improved utilization, and it’s clear users are serious about finding ways NOT to throw hardware at a problem. It’s also unusual for a major storage vendor to predict any kind of decline in their market, and Yoshida is among the most knowledgeable names in the business–so we’re paying attention.

But having increased storage efficiency as the acknowledged goal and reaching that goal are two different things, after all…and the cynical side of us is tempted to think this is a rationalization of IDC’s recent storage numbers, which showed Hitachi squarely in fourth place in most external disk categories with growth rates for the fourth quarter of ’06 hovering between 2 and 5% (EMC, IBM and NetApp were all consistently showing double-digit growth rates in these same numbers). And the utilization angle doesn’t necessarily explain why HDS fell 37.9% year over year in storage device management software and 24% annually in the IDC software tracker either.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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