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Ten on the Storage Hot Seat for 2008

Is it getting hot in here? It sure is, if you're one of the companies listed below. As we do every year, we've picked the top 10 storage players that face crucial junctures in the coming months. Some of the hot-seaters below, like Sun, have been on our list before, but a few are newcomers. And keep in mind that with the upcoming slowdown predicted in storage spending, along with other macroeconomic woes, lots more organizations are apt to feel the flames in 2008.

Without further ado, here are our picks:

No. 10: Dell

Most pundits hailed Dell's November purchase of EqualLogic for $1.4 billion as a move that opens intriguing possibilities. And Dell's latest earnings show excellent storage growth. Dell has also beefed up its storage roster with the addition of iSCSI SMB wares and the acquisition of IT consultancy Networked Storage last week. Still, analysts say Dell faces weakness in the PC market, the perception among VARs that the EqualLogic buy makes Dell a competitor, and the changing relationship with partner EMC. The coming year will force Dell to deal well with these and other challenges.

No. 9: NetApp

What, a key NAS player in the hot seat? At least one analyst sees NetApp as vulnerable to an expected upcoming IT spending slowdown. And IDC figures released in December 2007 place NetApp's NAS growth at 1.9 percent from the third quarter of 2006 through the third quarter 2007, compared with EMC's growth of 12.3 percent and IBM's growth of 55.1 percent in the same timeframe. While NetApp's shown strong software growth in IDC's figures, the winds of economic change could result in a spark or two hitting NetApp's posterior in 2008.

No. 8: Data Domain

Sure, Data Domain's meteoric IPO has put the company in the pink. The challenge in 2008 will be to stay there. Data Domain's top-dog position is threatened by competitors nipping at its heels, particularly in the still-untapped enterprise market.

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