“I don’t really care what EMC does. I mean, I pay attention but I don’t see much innovation going on over there. I see they’re actually copying a lot of the stuff we’ve been doing very successfully.”
Those were the words of NetApp’s new global channel strategy and sales vice president Peter Howard, whose catty comments epitomised the storage firm’s attitude to its largest competitor EMC during its Partners and Pathways Summit in Venice.
Howard was keen to add that he respected EMC, and that what it does for resellers is good for his firm as it promotes a healthy channel, but when questioned if its rival’s upcoming partner programme overhaul would inspire him to do something similar with NetApp’s, he simply claimed: “I don’t expect us to follow EMC – it has never happened in the 20 years we have been in this business, so I don’t expect that to change.”
In IDC’s external disk storage market figures for 2013’s first quarter, EMC’s market share of 30.4 per cent was more than double NetApp’s of 14.9 per cent, but the latter did manage to grow its revenue annually by 4.5 per cent while the market leader grew its by just 3.8 per cent over the same period.
Gartner agreed that NetApp’s market presence is growing, and in its external controller-based disk storage market tracker, the analyst said NetApp raced ahead of IBM to claim second place, despite the pair still trailing EMC, whose share dwarfed the duo.
Dave Allen, UK managing director of NetApp, said there is no avoiding that EMC must be selling more products, but added that its superior market share has a lot to do with its frequent shopping trips.
“IDC is measuring hardware [and if EMC has more market share] it means they are shipping more products, but they will have Data Domain in there and Isilon too,” he said.
“NetApp’s compounded annual growth has been fairly sustained [recently] and in that period of time, we have made one acquisition which had any relevance from a product point of view. We have made other acquisitions, but they are technology acquisitions to add to our [existing] capabilities.
“Whereas, in that same period of time [at EMC], you’ve had Isilon, Data Domain and others, so you have a company fundamentally buying new product portfolios. While we are innovating – the reason we’re selling more and more OnTap and Clustered OnTap and so on is based on our innovation – they are acquiring.
They are different strategies, and our belief is that innovation is the long-term differentiator in the IT industry.”
Allen’s sentiments were echoed by some UK partners at the Italian event, with reseller ANS Group’s technical director Andy Barrow claiming that if NetApp and EMC’s primary technology were set side by side, EMC’s share of the market “would not compare” to NetApp’s.
EMC was unavailable to comment when contacted by CRN, but at its EMC World event, it claimed to have the remaining 70 per cent of market share in its sights.
Computacenter’s practice lead for storage Bill McGloin, who did not attend the NetApp event, but works with both vendors, said there is room in the market for both companies, but he does see an overlap in their addressable market, which can be a “sensitive issue”.
During the partner gathering, NetApp unveiled a string of technical developments to its 220-strong army of attendees, including the newest version of its Data OnTap operating system.
ANS’ Barrow stressed that the technical advancements of the products were “game changing”, with NetApp’s Howard claiming they would be “insanely good” for resellers.
The vendor claims the 8.2 iteration will increase efficiency and allow access to data even during planned downtime. It said the product is suitable for both smaller and larger customers that are currently addressed by the product, adding that opening up the addressable market will drive revenue for it and its partner base.
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