If you want to take the economic pulse of the storage industry, look straight to the channel. That’s what Robert W. Baird & Co. does on a quarterly basis, and the firm just released results of its Q4 2008 survey of 40 enterprise resellers representing about $6 billion in annual IT spending.
The fourth quarter actually wasn’t that bad, with channel respondents split almost evenly among ‘above plan,’ ‘on plan’ and ‘below plan’ in terms of revenue. In fact, things improved in Q4 vs. the difficult Q3.
Not surprisingly, resellers expect Q1 2009 to be at or below normal seasonality, but they do see storage as a relative area of strength throughout the year. In fact, 30% of the survey respondents cited storage as the strongest area of IT spending, followed by server virtualization, which was cited by 11% of the VARs. (The weakest sectors are PCs and physical servers.)
Baird analysts summarize VARs’ performance as “lackluster,” although given the dour macro economic situation I’d say “lackluster” has become a very positive term.
Among the vendors getting the highest marks from the channel: Brocade, CommVault, Data Domain and NetApp.
And when the VARs were asked which vendors save their customers the most money, VMware topped the list, followed by Data Domain, NetApp, HP and CommVault. Rounding out the top ten were IBM, EMC, EqualLogic, Hitachi and Brocade.