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Five exabytes of disk storage ship in 2010

Last year, hard disk drive manufacturers shipped 5,127 petabytes of storage capacity, a 55.7% increase over 2009, according to a report released Friday by market research firm IDC. A petabyte equals 1 million gigabytes, and 1 exabyte equals 1,000 petabytes.

In the fourth quarter of 2010 alone, worldwide external disk storage systems revenues saw year-over-year growth of 16.2%, or just under $6.1 billion, according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker .

In the fourth quarter of 2010, the total disk storage systems market grew about $8.3 billion in revenues, representing 14.3% growth year over year.

“The fourth quarter of 2010 continued the trend of economic recovery, and helped close a successful year for disk storage,” said Liz Conner, IDC’s senior research analyst for storage systems.

Conner attributed the increase in disk drive sales to a loosening of IT budget purse strings by corporate executives, which allowed for 25.7% year over year growth in network storage systems.

Revenues for all the major storage vendors were up across the board.

Factory revenues for the total disk storage systems market grew by 18% to $28.7 billion in 2010 compared to 2009. Hewlett-Packard and EMC maintained their top spots as revenue leaders at 19% of the market each, followed by IBM and Dell with 16% and 11.9% shares, respectively.

In 2010, HP and EMC raked in $5.4 billion in sales each. IBM and Dell took in $4.5 billion and $3.4 billion in revenue, followed by Dell and NetApp with $3.4 and $2.3, respectively.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, EMC garnered 26% external storage systems revenue share, followed by IBM and HP 16.3% and 11.6%, respectively. NetApp ended the quarter in fourth position with 10.3% of market share. Hitachi Data Systems and Dell were statistically tied for 8.7% and 7.9%, respectively, IDC stated in its report.

Network storage systems based on Ethernet, rather than the Fibre Channel protocol, saw a significant jump in the fourth quarter, with network-attached storage and iSCSI systems sales growing 21.7% year over year with $5.1 billion in revenues.

EMC also maintained its lead in the latter category with a 29.7% revenue share, followed by IBM with a 15.2%.

Separately, the NAS market grew 41.3% year over year. EMC also led that category with a 52.8% revenue share, followed by NetApp with 23.7%. The iSCSI SAN market continues to show strong momentum, posting 42.1% revenue growth compared to the prior year’s quarter. Dell led the market with 32.6% revenue share, followed by HP in second and EMC in third with 14.7% and 13.4%, respectively.

High-end storage systems, or those with a sticker price of more than $250,000, came in with the highest sequential growth across all storage segments, according to Amita Potnis, IDC’s senior research analyst for storage systems.

“After significant declines during the 2009 crisis and the strong recovery in 2010, the high-end revenue market share is now 30.2%, thus bouncing back to the 2008 pre-crisis levels,” she said in a statement.

Potnis said there were multiple reasons for the high-end system growth, most notably user demand for storage consolidation and data centre upgrades supported by “new product push from a number of vendors.”

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