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Storage Sales Soar, But Many Vendors Under Pressure

Like its counterparts over at Gartner Research and IDC, TheInfoPro, a division of The 451 Group, reports strong growth ahead for the storage market in 2011. However, its research, indicates that a number of vendors--especially NetApp, Brocade, Symantec and Commvault--are facing growing challenges that they will need to surmount this year. TheInfoPro Storage Study, conducted in April, is based on 240 interviews with storage professionals and primary decision-makers at large and midsize enterprises in North America. Each interview lasts for one to three hours.

According to the biannual study, networked storage capacity in the F1000 will grow 24 percent this year, with 44 percent of organizations expecting to boost appropriations and 31 percent anticipating stable spending. While this year's storage expansion is being driven by new application growth, spending projections are remarkably similar to what was captured for 2010, says Marco Coulter, research director, storage sector and cloud sector, TheInfoPro (TIP).

Not all vendors are benefiting from this growth, he says, with EMC and NetApp continuing to separate from the pack. EMC not only remains atop the SAN storage market, but it's consolidating its overall market dominance, says Coulter. While NetApp is the lead vendor for network-attached storage (NAS), he says the study suggests that 2011 will be a year of strong competition for unified storage leadership. However, its reputation is cooling as storage professionals see alternative choices. "This is a very important year for NetApp."

Both Cisco and Brocade are trending down in purchases for 2011, and Coulter says Brocade will need a dramatic change this year to alter long-term trends. Symantec and Commvault also face challenges as virtual servers allow alternate protection schemes.

HP is another vendor TIP suggests could be facing challenges. "The 3Par acquisition [by HP] doesn't seem to have provided a bump that would have been expected."