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Lower-end SANs and storage management software appear to be the biggest spending priorities for storage professionals, according to TheInfoPro's latest storage study.
TIP's study, based on 192 in-depth interviews with Global 2000 storage decision makers and 42 institutional investors, found that storage professionals are planning to spend less on Storage Area Networks (SANs) this year than they did last year.
About 40% of the TIPNetwork member companies are planning to spend less, while 30% are planning to spend about the same.
"The real interest is investing in the lower-end SANs, which cost a lot less than the high-end systems that have been purchased the last two years," said TIP CEO and founder Ken Male. "This translates into less SAN spending overall."
The study also found that 28% are planning a budget shift toward software, with Storage Resource Management (SRM) the top priority.
"The overall storage budget is still predominantly hardware-focused," Male said. "However, storage professionals are planning to spend marginally more on software in 2003. Enterprises want to utilize better the capacity they have purchased in the last two years.
At the same time, user concerns persist about the completeness of current Storage Management solutions. This, combined with an overall reluctance to spend big on software, will delay large expenditures and encourage the continued use of some home-grown storage management tools, at least through mid-year."
The need for better management tools was the most frequent comment heard from the interviewees, with 54% of storage pros citing this as their top need. Interoperability was the second biggest user need, cited by 35%.
According to David Taylor, TIP's Chief Research Officer, the weakness in storage management tools is consistent with TIP's Wave 1 findings, which were released last summer. "In Wave 1, the TIPNetwork told us how difficult and complex users found the move from DAS to SANs," Taylor said. "Wave 2 emphasizes the need for better management tools than are available today."
McDATA Ranked Highest in Survey
Vendor performance and satisfaction were ranked as part of the Wave 2 TIP Storage Study. The TIPNetwork noted that EMC has made a number of improvements in ease of doing business and sales force quality compared to the Wave 1 study. Network Appliance continues to be the dominant Network Attached Storage (NAS) vendor, and 44% of NetApp's clients plan on spending more with them this year.
McDATA earned the highest overall rating among the storage vendors in the survey, TIP said. "Based on the nearly 200 in-depth interviews with companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase, FedEx, General Motors and Visa, McDATA was the highest-rated company in meeting customer needs and for their product quality," according to Male.
"In addition, the qualitative commentary received was very positive on their vision and roadmap. McDATA's overall scores were very impressive, especially considering the fact that it was up against the biggest players in the storage industry," Male continued.
The report noted that the SAN Switch market is currently in flux as McDATA moves down market, Brocade moves up market, and both add new functionality.
Cisco ranked number two on TIP's short list for new vendors that are being considered for specific implementations over the next 12 months ("preferred, but not installed"), which TIP said provides a good barometer for vendors that have the best potential to generate business. Hitachi Data Systems was number one on the "preferred, but not installed list."
VERITAS Reigns in Tape Backup Sector
VERITAS leads in the Tape Backup space, TIP said. "However, this is a crowded market and storage pros are taking a closer look at disk to disk for backup," TIP said. "A significant percentage of the TIPNetwork would like VERITAS to be an easier company to work with."
EMC has an early lead in the nascent Storage Management market, based on user ratings of installed products and reported confidence in EMC's ability to succeed in the space. TIP noted, though, that it is a relatively open market, with 42 percent of respondents willing to consider a "smaller or start-up vendor."
Institutional investors, meanwhile, view QLogic as the most overvalued company and rate Cisco highest in terms of "future potential."
TheInfoPro was founded by industry veterans of Gartner and Giga Information Group, and researches specific sectors of the IT industry such as storage, information security, CRM, and wireless. Participants for the Storage Study, Wave 2 included AT&T, MasterCard, Lufthansa, Raytheon, GMAC, and Pfizer, as well as more than 40 interviews with institutional investors who take positions and evaluate the publicly traded storage companies. TIP captured ratings and narrative comments on more than 40 vendors, including EMC, IBM, Brocade, VERITAS, Hitachi Data Systems, McDATA, Network Appliance, Cisco, HP, Sun, CA, StorageTek, Microsoft, Legato, Dell, ADIC, INRANGE, BlueArc, CommVault, Softek, and Spinnaker.
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