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2008: the year of the storage vendor.

Chinese astrology tells us that 2008 is the year of the rat, but I'm going to take it one step further and say it's the year of the 'pack rat,' which is a more appropriate term for the storage industry these days.

All of the compliance talk 'SOX, COBIT, COSO, HIPAA, Section 404' has overwhelmed organizations of all sizes and has made them more accountable for the data they collect and store. As a result, enterprise data will continue to grow exponentially, upwards of 50 percent a year on average.

If this doesn't make storage administrators shake in their boots, the exorbitant number of documents that must find a home on cramped disks due to these regulations will. While it may sound extreme, some companies have been required to gather and retain every single fax sent to them over the course of 25 years.

Enterprises throughout the world are trying to control costs and maximize resources. One strategy they've deployed is the centralization of IT management, specifically storage management. Additionally, as multiple data centers condense and become more sophisticated, fewer employees are challenged to do more tasks and take on even more responsibilities on a daily basis. Intel is looking to consolidate 133 of its data centers globally into eight high-density facilities in order to reduce costs' and this is just the tip of the iceberg. As more organizations consolidate, the burden is then placed on storage administrators to maximize existing storage resources while accurately planning for future growth.

And, just when you thought underutilized, over-provisioned storage wasn't an issue, think again. A recent poll discovered that most storage companies believe that 70 percent of storage capacity is wasted' perpetuating the problem of insufficient storage resources. This leaves storage administrators with the delicate balancing act of ensuring their organizations have enough storage resources while keeping costs at a minimum.

With this environment in mind, here are some of the trends that you'll be seeing within the storage industry this year:

Increased Use of Managed Services and Software as a Service (SaaS)

These types of services will play a more prominent role when it comes to the storage industry, making it easy for companies to offer their own branded service and easily integrate additional products into their existing arsenal of service offerings. This effectively takes some of the pressure off the companies themselves, which are tapped for resources, and into the hands of the service providers. It also delivers tools and solutions to customers needing to create an annuity-based revenue stream and a customized user experience when it comes to challenges such as branch office data protection or remote backup and disaster recovery. One example of this can be seen in the rapid growth of online backup services.

Mission-critical'| File-level Reporting

Due to SOX, companies are required to produce both electronic and paper documents during trial. Given our litigious environment in the United States, longer file retention periods and the need to quickly materialize specific documents can become a nightmare for storage and IT administrators. Not to mention the soaring legal costs involved in cases in which documents can't be located in a timely fashion. In 2008, we'll start seeing more storage software vendors marketing solutions that have file-level reporting capabilities. This ability to drill down into the data will be advantageous to companies needing to locate specific files for backup or recovery quickly and effectively. (This is commonly referred to as e-discovery, but is its own application or service.)

Storage Company M&A

We've all read it in the news. IBM buying XIV. Dell buying EqualLogic. HP buying PolyServe. And the list goes on and on. More companies have tried to boil the ocean with their storage offerings and have realized that a more targeted approach is the key to success. In 2008, we'll see more acquisitions that strengthen existing product lines to address niche applications.

Disk Prices Drop, Disk Purchases Pop

According to Bob Laliberte, storage analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), 'Disk prices are definitely dropping year over year, and overall disk purchases are continuing to rise.' However, he feels that there are many more factors contributing to the rise in overall disk purchases than just the decline in the price. More disks are purchased because of massive storage growth, with 50-60 percent year-over-year growth not uncommon. At the same time, there is a shift in backup technologies migrating to disk from tape (see Figure 1). Roughly 26 percent of those surveyed back up to external disk today. However, 48 percent are forecasted to back up to disk in 2010. There are many reasons for this shift, including faster backup windows, faster recovery times and seamless search functionality (e-discovery).


Laliberte goes on to say that server virtualization due to its reliance on networked storage is also driving disk purchases. He explains, 'All of the islands of individual server storage are being consolidated onto SAN and NAS and will increase storage in those arrays. ESG research indicates that 86 percent of companies deploying server virtualization are supporting that environment with networked storage.

'The fact that disk prices are falling is certainly a benefit to those companies that deploy storage management software, as they will be able to increase their storage utilization and defer large capital expenses for as much as a year or more depending on the environment. That delayed purchase will result in a lower cost' potentially as much as 30 percent savings in just one year.'

Web 2.0: Not Just for Wikis Anymore

Laliberte believes another driver of disk sales is Web 2.0 technology, which is driving massive data growth from sites like YouTube and Facebook.

Web 2.0 technology has typically been viewed as a venue for developing wikis and social networking sites. Yet, the bottom line remains: Web 2.0 technology enables users to get extensive functionality from any browser. More enterprise applications will reap the benefits of Web 2.0 applications from storage solutions providers. Web 2.0 brings the functionality and ease-of-use of a desktop application to the browser. This makes the browser a much more rich and powerful environment. Users can 'right-click' to access application menus and take advantage of 'drag and drop' contents on the screen to name just a few examples.

Eco-friendly Storage: The Greening of the Data Center

Like Kermit the Frog says, 'It ain't easy being green.' But in today's world, it's a complete necessity.

As the world becomes greener the data center will also follow suit. Everyone is trying to reduce power consumption in the data center, which has its benefits on both the bottom line and the planet. Companies will be looking to minimize their footprint, which will lead to the continued increase in technologies such as virtualization. They will also look for applications that streamline operations for greater efficiency.

Some data centers are forced to operate at 50 percent capacity due to power and cooling issues. In some areas, data centers are not able to get any more power. In others, power companies are offering rebates and incentives to leverage greener technologies like server virtualization. Today, every technology decision is accompanied by a power and cooling review. Because storage plays an increasingly large role in the data center power and cooling picture, expect more effort to be placed on energy-efficient storage solutions like MAID, thin provisioning and storage virtualization.

Yes, 2008 is sure to be the year of the pack rat. Now it's up to companies like us to make sure it's also the year of the storage vendor.

About the Author

Richard Clark is president and CEO of APTARE, Inc. of Campbell, Calif. He has 20 years of leadership experience in the enterprise software industry. He co-founded APTARE in 1993 with the sole purpose of developing scalable Web-based applications for large enterprises. As CEO, Rick is responsible for setting the strategic vision and direction of the company. Rick holds several patents covering Web-based architectures for enterprises. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree with honors and a Bachelor of Science degree from Auckland University, New Zealand.

The company's flagship product, APTARE StorageConsole, is a real-time browser-based portal that gives IT administrators and executives a centralized, real-time view to manage their data protection environment through easy-to-read graphical dashboards.
Figure 1
Approximately what percentage of your organization's total on-site
backup data is currently stored on each of the following storage media
types? Please also indicate what you expect these percentages to be in
2010? (N = 364)
 Percentage of Percentage of
 backup data on backup data on
 each media each media
 type--2007 type--2010
Internal server 20% 21%
External disk-based 20% 48%
storage system
Nearing tape (i.e. on-site, 48% 27%
accessible tape)
Other 5% 4%

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Article Details
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Author:Clark, Richard
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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