Computing Stocks Look to the Clouds – GOOG, MSFT, EMC, STX, WDC, VMW

by Paul Ausick | April 22, 2010 8:15 am

What’s the best way to store computer data? More and more often the answer to that question includes the word “cloud.” For most of us, the cloud refers to the large public off-site storage sites offered by Amazon (AMZN[1]), Google (GOOG[2]), and Microsoft (MSFT[3]).

Another answer to the question is “private cloud,” which, as one might guess, a smaller, non-public version of the Internet cloud. And one of the leading suppliers of technology for the private cloud is EMC Corp. (EMC[4]), which this morning reported record results for its 2010 first quarter. EMC’s revenues totaled $3.9 billion, up 23% from the same period a year ago, and diluted EPS for the quarter was $0.17, up 70% from a year ago.

In a similar vein, one of the largest suppliers of the disk drives used in every kind of storage application, Seagate Technology (STX[5]), reported its third quarter 2010 results yesterday and they just about matched EMC. Seagate posted EPS of $1 on revenue of $3.05 billion. A year ago revenue was $1 billion lower and the drive maker posted an EPS loss of -$0.56.

Seagate shipped a record 50.3 million disk drives in the quarter. Western Digital Corp. (WDC[6]), which will announce quarterly results tomorrow, shipped 49.5 million drives in the last quarter, and will almost surely top that in tomorrow’s report. Western Digital is expected to put up EPS of $1.53, and that also seems like a sure thing.

Disk drives, and lots of them, are a requirement for cloud computing of any kind, public or private. Ebay (EBAY[7]) runs a data warehouse on an internal cloud. The company adds 40 terabytes of data per day to its 5 petabyte warehouse. That’s good for Seagate and Western Digital.

EMC and its majority-owned spin-off VMWare (VMW[8]) are just two companies that provide the hardware/software solutions that drive cloud computing. VMWare’s virtualization expertise has been leveraged into new products that customers can either run internally or use with a hosted cloud. VMWare takes care of the servers, and EMC’s cabinets take care of the storage.

The private cloud has its detractors who claim it is difficult to integrate private and public clouds, and why bother anyway, since virtualization and networked storage can handle most of the work already. The simple answer is scalability. As demands for CPU cycles and storage increase, a private cloud with virtualization can respond almost instantly to the new demands.

EMC is not the only player in this field, but the company has a loyal customer base and leading edge technology. That’s a potent combination that should stand the company in good stead for the rest of this year.

Tell us what you think here.[9]

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