A report that Sun lost 14.8 percent of market share in the tape library market in 2006 appears to be wrong. Instead of declining from a number one position to a number three position, as stated by Freeman Reports, Sun maintained a number two position according to IDC.

According to IDC data, Sun was in the number two position for factory-out total tape automation, at $507M, a 1.5 percent increase over 2005. That is for total libraries with drives shipped from Sun factories. For 2006, IDC also shows Sun in the number two position for branded total tape automation, at $514.7M, a 1.9 percent increase over 2005. IDC's definition of Sun branded total tape automation is for total libraries with drives sold under the Sun StorageTek brand.

I hear that Sun is working quite closely with Freeman Reports analysts to correct admitted discrepancies.

This means that the starting point of the 'Is Sun failing with StorageTek' article, that Sun had foregone earnings of a quarter of a billion dollars in the tape library market, did not apply. That obviously indicates that Sun is not failing with StorageTek.

Looking ahead

IDC's research report, 'Worldwide Tape Automation 2007–2011 Forecast and Analysis, (IDC #206700), looks at the long-term outlook for the total worldwide tape automation market. It suggests there will be modest growth in unit shipments but a declining market value through to 2011.

IDC expects shipments to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.4 percent, totaling nearly 154,500 units in 2011, while market value is expected to decrease at a 5.7 percent CAGR through 2011.

IDC thinks the main tape automation market trends are:
- The low-end tape automation market will feel the greatest impact, in part from disk and distributed VTL products.
- The midrange tape automation market will benefit from high-capacity, low-cost libraries and autoloaders in the near term.
- The enterprise tape automation market will continue to remain small in volume, but the majority of libraries will be configured with well over several hundred tape cartridges.

The overall causes of this pattern were described by Robert Amatruda, IDC's research director for tape and removable storage: ""Hardware-based disk backup solutions, tighter integration of virtual tape library application software, and the trend away from direct-attached tape solutions will adversely impact the tape automation market on the long-term."

He offered this advice to tape automation manufacturers; tape automation vendors should: "design tape libraries that interoperate with disk-based solutions or allow for software-enabled VTL applications. Tape automation vendors that provide complementary disk and tape solutions will benefit from a broader base of customer spending for data-protection products."

IDC's study, Worldwide Tape Automation 2007–2011 Forecast and Analysis, (IDC #206700) provides actual quarterly shipment data for 2005 and 2006 and covers tape automation forecasts of revenue and shipments for 2007–2011. The study also presents expectations for demand, vendor execution, and industry dynamics, as well as suggests sound strategies for industry participants.