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IDC: Storage software surging

Worldwide sales of software for tasks such as data backup grew 18 percent in the fourth quarter, thanks partly to efforts to comply with regulations.

The storage software market jumped by 18 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003, thanks partly to efforts by companies to meet data-handling regulations and prepare for disasters.

Research firm IDC released on Monday a study showing that the worldwide market for software designed for such things as backing up data grew to $1.78 billion in the last three months of last year, up from $1.51 billion in the fourth quarter of 2002. For the entire year, storage software revenue rose 8 percent year over year, to $6.29 billion.

EMC led the storage software market in the fourth quarter with 31.7 percent revenue share, IDC said. EMC's figure reflects the combined results of EMC and Legato Systems, which EMC acquired last October. Veritas Software was in second place with 21.9 percent market share, followed by Computer Associates with 9.8 percent.

"As we begin to move away from the most recent downturn, the storage software market is enjoying the positive effects of data centers, which are investing heavily to secure, manage and protect their digital assets," John McArthur, an analyst at IDC, said in a statement.

Spending on storage software remains lower than spending on storage hardware. But software is becoming more central to organizations, as they seek to squeeze more out of their storage gear and cut administration costs.

Another impetus for storage software purchases is organizations' need to comply with new rules related to data retention, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, said Bill North, an analyst at IDC.

"The storage resource management market benefited from the wider adoption of more integrated software to manage complex networked storage environments, while the backup and replication markets were propelled by a combination of increased storage hardware spending and the need to support disaster recovery and regulatory compliance initiatives," North said in a statement.

IDC breaks down the storage software market into three main categories. Storage resource management software refers to products designed to ease the handling of storage devices and networks. Backup and archiving software tackles tasks such as copying data sets and recovering information in case of a failure. Replication software includes products that continuously copy, or "mirror," data from one location to another.

Revenue from EMC and Legato in the fourth quarter grew 25.7 percent year over year to $563 million, when looking at the combined results of the companies, according to IDC. Viewed in this fashion, EMC-Legato's market share rose from 29.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002.

North said part of EMC's momentum stems from the fact that potential Legato customers no longer worry as much as they used to that Legato may fold. "They don't have to ask that question so much, now that Legato's part of EMC," he said.

Veritas' fourth-quarter storage software revenue rose 21.3 percent year-over-year to $389 million, and its market share increased 0.7 percentage points, according to IDC.

Computer Associates' fourth-quarter storage software revenue rose 11.4 percent to $174 million, but its market share slid 0.5 percentage points, IDC said.

IBM's storage software sales climbed 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter to $148 million, according to IDC. But its market share dropped from 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002 to 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Hewlett-Packard, however, gained ground in the storage software market in the fourth quarter, according to IDC. Its revenue grew 28 percent year over year to $141 million, and its market share rose from 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002 to 7.9 percent in the most recent quarter, IDC said.

North said he expected storage software growth to continue this year, with additional fuel coming from data lifecycle management offerings. Information lifecycle management refers to technology and services to keep track of data and store it on the appropriate equipment, as it ages.