FEATURES & COMMENTARY
San Diego, CALIF. — Jacqueline Emigh reports that Compaq and IBM have completed the first steps in their collaborative struggle to pull leadership of the storage market away from EMC. Is their partnership strategy working? It’s too early to tell, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the duo might be able to leverage their strong partner ties to gain market share.
Once upon a time, IBM was the uncontested king of RAID storage, ruling over both the mainframe and “open systems” Unix/Windows dominions. Ever since the mid-1990s, though, EMC has been chipping away at the market lead.
International Data Corp. says EMC’s share of the worldwide external RAID market shot up nearly four points be tween 1998 and 1999, from 23.3 percent to 27.1 percent, while Compaq stayed flat and IBM declined.
Those numbers don’t reflect Compaq’s growing market strength, however. The company has become much more formidable through its merger with StorageWorks purveyor Digital Equipment Corp. several years ago. Add to that a strategic alliance with IBM, and the two are poised for a serious challenge against EMC.
The two runners-up wasted precious little time over the summer in trying to make good on their planned coup. In mid-August, Compaq opened a $7 million, 22,000-square-foot storage lab in Colorado Springs. The express purpose of the lab is to develop technology based on Compaq’s VersaStor software, which will support multivendor computers and storage devices for networked storage and retrieval. As part of the storage alliance, IBM vowed support for VersaStor.
Big Blue then unveiled the first product out of the joint OEM/marketing agreement at the heart of the deal. Dubbed the Modular Storage Server, the midrange platform is an IBM-branded edition of Compaq’s StorageWorks Modular Array 8000, says Mike Harrison, IBM’s director of storage alliances.
Likewise, during the fourth quarter, Compaq will roll out its own branded version of Shark, adding mainframe storage for the first time ever.
IBM and Compaq claim to be acting on the market reality that the installed storage base is decidedly multivendor in character. Outside of the three top runners, major players include HP, Hitachi, StorageTek and Sun.
Compaq’s also been talking to at least two other storage vendors about the possibility of joint service agreements, says Gary Wright, Compaq’s director of marketing for enterprise storage software.
Roy Sanford, EMC’s VP of enterprise alliances, is the first to admit EMC’s partnership strategy is different, but so far it’s been working. Also in EMC’s defense, the company has opened up its APIs to outside vendors, including IBM’s own Tivoli.
The final outcome of this battle remains uncertain, but one thing’s for sure: The heat is on EMC.
Company Worldwide External RAID Market
1998 1999 Compaq 12.9% 12.9% EMC 23.3% 27.1% IBM 12.2% 10.6%
Source: International Data Corp.