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A week after the Internet Engineering Task Force ratified the iSCSI standard for storage networking, research firm META Group
said Fibre Channel will continue to reign as the dominant SAN architecture in data center deployments in the SAN storage market through 2006, or even 2007.
Keith Brown, Director of Technology and Strategy at Network Appliance, whose firm regularly jockeys for position in the storage market with EMC, recently said Fibre Channel "really struggles in terms of standards, interoperability, complexity and costs."
"With iSCSI, you can implement the semantic equivalent of a Fibre Channel SAN using just Linksys switches for a couple of hundreds of dollars," Brown told internetnews.com.
Entrenched Fibre Channel Systems a Barrier for Rapid Adoption of iSCSI
The problem is getting there. While research firms such as Gartner see iSCSI as having a $10 billion market potential in the future, ripping out and replacing Fibre Channel systems may not be an option for some businesses. Also, iSCSI is not quite equipped to handle high-performance applications.
As if the dueling technologies aren't enough to contend with, Stamford, Conn.'s META called the SAN market "highly competitive" among vendors and predicted it would undergo significant changes during the next two years, most of which will occur in management software.
"Vendors will attempt to deliver policy-based storage management that will be tightly integrated, which will be homogeneous initially," said Phil Goodwin, program director with META Group's Server Infrastructure Strategies service. Heterogeneous management capabilities may surface by 2005 or 2006, he said.
EMC is widely acknowledged as the enterprise SAN market leader, with competitors such as Network Appliance, HP, Hitachi Data Systems, and IBM in the background.
Network-attached Storage Market to Consolidate
In a separate study, META predicted the networked-attached storage
Goodwin said the NAS market is maturing and will continue to consolidate through 2006 or 2007. Spending for NAS was modest because many firms are pursuing SAN systems. However, Goodwin said vendors will eventually need to move to shared storage (SAN and NAS) to accommodate customers and compete.
"There are clear leaders, distant challengers, and distant followers in the enterprise network-attached storage market," said Goodwin. "IT organizations must decide what business problems they are trying to solve and select vendors based on a holistic evaluation, particularly for strategic acquisitions."
Storage Comprises 12-15% of Total IT Budget
Overall, META found that storage makes up 12 to 15 percent of the total IT budget.
This makes it crucial for vendors to continue to crank out a variety of products that will meet a broad array of storage needs. It also means IT enterprises must be more selective about what infrastructure they choose to store and back up their data, according to Goodwin.
"We advise clients to consolidate their strategic storage vendors to one or two platforms in order to simplify operations, reduce training, and improve organizational agility," Goodwin said. "An enterprise shortlist would normally be made up of leaders and challengers, but other products can be considered on a best-of-breed basis for a particular application."
This story originally appeared on internetnews.com.
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