RAID array sales top $13 billion; server vendors continue to dominate
By Zachary Shess
Worldwide disk drive array shipments were expected to rise 24% in 1998 to more than 1.3 million units, according to a recent report from Disk/Trend Inc., a market research firm in Mountain View, CA. The shipment increase translates to more than $13 billion in sales, a 13.4% increase over 1997 revenues.
RAID systems designed for networks and midrange systems showed the largest increase with 1998 sales estimated at $9.3 billion, a jump of nearly 19%. Not surprisingly, network and midrange systems remains the largest market segment, representing 71% of all disk-drive-array sales.
After explosive growth throughout the past decade, disk drive arrays will continue to grow steadily, but not necessarily at the high rates seen a few years ago, according to James Porter, Disk/Trend president. "In the 1990s, the RAID market grew from 0% to 80% of the storage subsystems shipped," says Porter. "Once the market reaches a saturation point, growth will reflect the overall increase in demand for storage in the server environment, which is 15% to 20% annually."
System vendors such as Compaq and IBM are expected to remain the top-selling RAID vendors, even with the increased trend toward storage area networks (SANs), which separate servers from storage devices. Porter doesn`t anticipate dramatic changes because these vendors have announced "elaborate" SAN initiatives, and because users increasingly want their storage and net problems solved by one company.
"System vendors have an inherent advantage in an environment where the MIS director or whoever is buying has the desire to hold a single vendor responsible," says Porter. "If that thinking continues, it won`t matter where the storage is positioned on the network because users will still want to hold one vendor responsible for it."