Storage vendors will face tough market conditions this year, according to Gartner, with research indicating that 78 per cent of corporations in Australia have no plans to make any major storage acquisitions in 2002.
Gartner said that a phenomenal increase in storage shipments over the past couple of years has resulted in an over-adoption of raw storage hardware and a low utilisation rate.
"There are a number of reasons why companies won't be embarking on any major storage purchases this year, namely the economic downturn and resulting budgetary constraints, and storage under-utilisation," said Phil Sargeant, research director for servers and storage at Gartner Asia Pacific.
Australia has the third-highest hardware utilisation rate in the Asia-Pacific at 61.9 per cent, behind India and New Zealand. Organisations have an extra 40 per cent of storage capacity to fill, which will result in increased demand for storage management software.
"We're still going to see storage itself growing rapidly, but we're seeing an overall shift in priorities. Vendors like EMC are getting heavily into the software side because clearly there's more money in it," said Matthew Boon, principal analyst for hardware platforms at Gartner Asia-Pacific.
The Gartner statistics have been met with reservation by a number of vendors in the storage industry. Simon Harvey, managing director of Quantum ATL Australia/New Zealand, said that while the top end of the market is saturated, there are still signs of growth in the mid-range sector. However, Harvey conceded the market has slowed somewhat. "Right now we're experiencing 10 per cent growth quarter on quarter. Is that what I thought we'd have six months ago? Obviously, no," he said.
Andrew Manners, manager of enterprise storage at Compaq Australia, agrees that medium-sized companies are the hot spot for selling storage in 2002. "A lot of these guys are looking at storage consolidation and SAN now that the high-end has tried it on," he said.
Clive Gold, marketing manager for EMC Australia, also expressed scepticism at Gartner's figures. However, he agreed that the role of software in the whole storage equation is on the rise. "EMC is looking at a breakdown of 50 per cent hardware, 30 per cent software and 20 per cent services in its solutions.
That's how we're gearing ourselves this year," he said.