Disk storage systems generated more than $8.5 billion in revenue in the last quarter of 2011, representing a 3.5% increase from the prior year's fourth quarter. For all of 2011, disk storage systems grew 7.7%, according to research firm IDG.
For 2011 as a whole, factory revenues for the worldwide external disk storage systems market grew 10.6% to $23.5 billion year on year. The total disk storage systems market, which includes the server market, grew by 8.2% to $31.1 billion in 2011 compared to 2010.
But it was the amount of capacity on those disk storage systems that skyrocketed in the last quarter. In the fourth quarter, vendors shipped more than 6.2 petabytes, or 22.4% more capacity year over year.
"The external disk storage systems market ended 2011 with strong year-over-year revenue growth that helped to push the market to 10.6% growth for the entire year," said Liz Conner, IDC's senior research analyst for storage systems.
Conner said market growth was driven by emerging markets in regions including China, Brazil, Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mature areas such as Western Europe and the US saw growth soften as their economies entered the recession recovery phase.
Fourth-quarter growth was not hampered by flooding in Thailand that occurred in August through October of last year, as supplies had yet to be affected. Floods temporarily shut down as much as 75% of former drive-leader Western Digital production. The impact of the floods will be felt more in the first quarter of 2012, IDG said.
"The enterprise storage market is expected to start feeling the brunt of this shortage in 2012, resulting in minimal impact on the fourth quarter and 2011 as a whole," Conner said.
In 2011, EMC and HP led the market for total disk storage systems revenue with 21.5% and 18.5% of the market, respectively. They were followed by IBM with 15.4% and Dell with 11.4%.
In the fourth quarter, EMC maintained its lead in external disk storage systems with a 29.4% revenue share. IBM held on to second place with a 15.2% market share, followed by NetApp with 11.2% and HP with 10.3% market shares. Hitachi ended the quarter in fifth place, with 9.2%.
High-end storage growth
The total open networked disk storage market (NAS Combined with Open/iSCSI SAN) grew 9.6% year over year in the fourth quarter to $5.6 billion in revenues. EMC also maintained its lead there with a 32.6% revenue share, followed by IBM with a 14.6%.
The NAS market declined 1.2% year over year, led by EMC with a 48.8% revenue share and followed by NetApp with 29.4%.
Dell's lead in the iSCSI SAN market continues, which show strong growth with 16.6% revenue growth compared to the prior year's quarter. Dell was followed by EMC in second and HP in third with 20.4% and 12.8% market shares, respectively.
High-end storage systems, those with an average selling price of $250,000 or more, met expected seasonal trends with the highest quarter-over-quarter growth in revenue.
"The share of high-end storage systems increased from 28.2% in 2010 to 30.0% in 2011. This increase was most notable outside the United States," said IDC analyst Amita Potnis. "Drivers for this increase include economic recovery, storage consolidation, and data centre build-up and upgrades."