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EMC cranks up pressure in networked storage

Despite recent reports of companies such as IBM quickly gaining on EMC's market share, the storage giant says it is not relinquishing its viselike grip on the storage market.

EMC has embarked on its latest round of chest-beating, after proclaiming that forthcoming research from Gartner Dataquest still places it as the company to beat in the networked storage market. The report acts as further proof ? if it were needed ? that EMC is not relinquishing its viselike grip on the storage market.

The storage giant also declared itself the new leader in the network-attached storage (NAS) marketplace in the first half of 2001, although this is not actually borne out in Gartner's study of the market during 2000.

EMC says its NAS revenue was $562m for the first six months of 2001, nearly triple the amount for the previous year. The figure also exceeded that of nearest rival Network Appliance, although this is difficult to prove since NetApp works on a different financial calendar.

There's little doubt, however, that EMC has made significant inroads into NetApp's formidable market share since it launched its first major assault on the NAS market late last year. Nor is there little wonder EMC is making the most of this opportunity to beat NetApp over the head. When EMC launched its 'Chameleon' line last December, CEO Joe Tucci claimed the company would overtake NetApp during 2001. That claim was largely dismissed at the time by NetApp, but being able to claim it has achieved this by mid-year is an opportunity it wants to make the most of, especially since NetApp's staggering growth has been effectively terminated by the economic slowdown.

According to the Gartner report, which will be published in August, EMC took a 36.3% share of the $1.4bn NAS market in 2000, with revenue of $524m. NetApp was the leader with a 49.8% share and revenue of $719.9m. The next-biggest player is Quantum, with a 4% share, and the following seven players ? Dell, Auspex, Procom, Maxtor, HP, Compaq, NSS ? have less than 10% between them.

EMC's leadership in the SAN market is even more formidable, according to Gartner. The company took a 38.8% share of the $4.84bn SAN-attached external hardware RAID controller-based storage market during 2000, with revenue of $1.88bn. Additionally, EMC says that during the first six months of 2001 it increased its SAN revenue by 49% over the first half of 2000, to $1.3bn, giving it an even greater lead.

Compaq was in second place in the SAN market, according to the report, with a share of 28.5% and revenue of $1.38bn during 2000. HP is ranked third with a 10.4% share and revenue of $502m, IBM is fourth with 4.5% and $219m, Hitachi Data Systems fifth with 3.4% and $165m revenue, and Sun sixth with 3% and $147m. Dell props up the bottom with a 1.4% share and $67m revenue.

EMC says the research points out that networked storage is something that customers are increasingly demanding. EMC expects 70% of storage deployments to be networked within the next three or four years. SAN and NAS implementations, together with related software, continue to be EMC's fastest-growing segments, the company maintains. Just as important, it says, is the fact that EMC is the only vendor to have credible offerings in both the SAN and NAS market. No other vendor exceeded 2% market share in both these markets in 2000, says EMC.

As ever, there's a certain amount of politicking going on here. Veritas CEO Gary Bloom declared recently that SAN implementations were still "experimental," a suggestion that irked EMC in particular, given its efforts to establish a leadership position in this space.

As hardware continues to fall into the commodity bracket, EMC and other hardware players are repositioning themselves as 'solution' providers in the networked storage space, and selling themselves on the back of their ability to reduce the cost of storage through efficient management. Although a movement to networked storage is undoubtedly happening, it's in EMC's best interests to speed this process up.

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