In Storage, Apple is Shining

Given the stunning growth of iPod phenomenon and general good fiscal health of Apple, it is easy to overlook some of the progress the company is making in the enterprise markets, especially when it comes to storage. According to some reports, Apple’s storage products have been selling like hot croissants on a cold Parisian morning and at the end of “second quarter of 2005, the company had shipped 76 petabytes of storage.” The sad part is that Apple itself doesn’t keep people upto date on its progress in these markets.

Robert Cox, vice president of research, who tracks the storage business for Gartner says that in 2004, Apple did about $78 million in storage sales and were #12 ranked storage vendor in the world, but by end of 2005, Apple’s storage sales were around $185 million. The company had moved into the 10th spot overall. “They have done a good job of selling into the small and medium business market,” says Cox. (South Park uses Apple storage by the way.)

According to his estimates, nearly 40% o XServe RAIDs are connected to non-Mac OS servers. “They are in a good and a growing market, and have done a good job of building a reliable and easy to use device from commodity components,” says Cox. The network attached storage business is a $14.5 billion a year business, and the $185 million doesn’t exactly seem that very much. Their high quality products, are better priced compared to other name brand players such as EMC, Dell, HP, Sun and even Net App.

Do the math: the gigabyte-per-dollar ratio of Xserve RAID is the best in the world for Fibre Channel storage, and trumps most SCSI storage solutions as well. Xserve RAID offers up to 7TB of high-performance redundant storage at under $2 per gigabyte — a fraction of the cost of storage from Dell, HP, Sun or IBM.

Cox thinks that company will continue to do well in 2006 and should move up a notch or two in the world wide rankings. Apple, will have a tougher time, thereafter. It needs to transition from current generation technologies such as SATA and embrace SAScsi, a new architecture that can give Apple a big leg-up against fiber channel based storage devices. I wonder why Apple shies away from prompting well in the storage and server markets.

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