According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker, global market revenue for enterprise external OEM storage systems declined 2,1% year over year to $7,8-billion during the fourth quarter of 2020 (4Q20).

Total external OEM storage capacity shipped was up 11,3% year over year to 23,8 exabytes during the quarter.

Revenue generated by the group of original design manufacturers (ODMs) selling directly to hyperscale datacenters grew 2% year over year to $6,6-billion in 4Q20, while capacity shipped grew by 7,6% year over year to 76 exabytes.

Total capacity shipments for the market (External OEM + ODM Direct + Server-Based Storage) increased 8,3% to 135,1 exabytes.

“The external storage system market contracted for the fourth consecutive quarter in 4Q20, down 2,1% year over year, as the market for the full year 2020 closed out with a 4% decline,” says Greg Macatee, research analyst: Infrastructure Platforms and Technologies Group at IDC.

“Geographically, the lone region to experience growth during the quarter was China (PRC), which grew nearly 30% year over year and was bolstered by strong performances from a series of locally headquartered vendors. Another of the overall enterprise storage systems market bright spots was the ODM Direct segment, which grew this quarter at a rate of 2% annually.”

Dell Technologies was the largest external enterprise storage systems supplier during the quarter, followed by HPE/New H3C Group. Huawei, NetApp, and IBM took the third, fourth, and fifth positions in the market, respectively.

The total All Flash Array (AFA) market generated $3-billion in revenue during the quarter, down 6,9% year over year. The Hybrid Flash Array (HFA) market was worth nearly $3,2-billion in revenue, increasing 5,8% from the year ago quarter.

On a geographic basis, storage revenue in PRC grew 28% year over year. Japan declined 7,8% year over year, while Canada and the US fell 8,7% and 10,1%, respectively. Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan and PRC) also contracted 14,4% annually, and Latin America fell 18,3%.

The EMEA external storage systems market value was down 2,8% year on year in dollars and 9,8% in euros in 2020Q4, according to International Data Corporation’s (IDC) EMEA Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker.

The exchange rate played a central role in making the year-on-year comparison more favourable when looking at it in dollars rather than euros.

Unlike previous quarters, performance was similar across subregions, with Western European value down 2,8% year on year and CEMA down 2,9% (both in dollars). The all-flash-array (AFA) segment also declined, recording a year-on-year fall of 3,9%. The hybrid flash array (HFA) segment was more resilient, with a decline of 0,6%.

The full year 2020 saw a drop of 6,5% in dollars (8.4% in euros), but the AFA segment remained afloat (+3,7% in dollars and +1.6% in euros); it was also the largest segment by value (44%, versus 37% for HFA and 19% for HDD-only).

“While the 2020 economic downturn hit EMEA countries with differing levels of intensity, recent events in the region are changing the way IT infrastructure is purchased and consumed. The requirements for cloud-like consumption models, coupled with distributed IT deployment and wider adoption of digital transformation, will fuel innovation and competitiveness during the recovery,” says Silvia Cosso, associate research director: storage systems at IDC Western Europe.

Western European external storage market value was down 2,8% in dollars (-9,7% in euros) for the quarter and down 9,8% for the full year (-11,6% in euros).

The slowdown in the external storage market in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMA) was expected following the second wave of Covid-19, which led to stricter measures in some countries in the region and more economic setbacks. The decline was 2,9% YoY, with market value at $655,7-million.

The MEA region remained flat, as pending high-end storage projects were finally implemented; along with spending on entry-level solutions, this managed to offset the drop in the midrange.

The CEE market, however, was down. This was mainly due to a decline in the all-flash business for the first time since we started tracking it in the region. The investments in HCI and PBBA continued to accelerate in double digits (44,3% and 26,3% respectively), but the remaining storage projects, typical for the last quarter of the year, were postponed and this led to a decline of nearly 20% in the midrange segment.

“Clearly, the fluctuations in the market reflect the impact of the pandemic on the economy, and 2021 will continue in this vein,” says Marina Kostova, research manager: storage systems at IDC CEMA. “However, the transformation of the storage consumption and data management segment will continue and, together with the growth in workloads related to AI, 5G, and edge, will lead to even greater storage demand, larger storage capacities, and further flash developments, but with less hardware and in a progressively hybrid environment.”