Management Software Catches On
Sales of new licenses for storage management software are growing, with hierarchical storage management (HSM) and archiving expected to be the fastest growing segments of the market. According to Gartner, storage management software is slated to increase from a $5.6 billion market in 2004 to $9.4 billion by 2009.
So what exactly is storage management software? It has been defined as software designed to help administer functions such as backup, archival, disaster recovery and HSM procedures within an organization. It is sometimes referred to as data storage software, infrastructure software, network storage software, or simply storage software. Although storage management software can be implemented on a standalone system, it is more frequently used in the distributed network of an enterprise.
That covers a lot of ground, so we'll start with the biggest question: why will HSM be the fastest growing segment of this market?
HSM: Driving ILM
Some analysts say the growth in HSM is being driven by the need to take advantage of lower-priced storage options as data ages to meet data retention requirements while better managing total cost of ownership and improving recovery, a so-called information lifecycle management (ILM) approach.
Tom Clark, director of solutions and technology at McData, says HSM is growing because the economies promised by ILM are steering users toward hierarchical storage and network infrastructures.
"By aligning the infrastructure and classes of storage containers to the business value of data, customers can maximize utilization of all storage assets and ensure that application data receives the proper class of handling as its relative value changes through time," explains Clark. "Finding more efficient means to better service upper layer business application data will be the focus of storage networking technology for years to come."
John Meyer, senior solutions architect at Dimension Data North America, says his firm is "seeing an increase in interest from our customers around HSM and archiving as a way to solve other data management challenges, such as helping reduce backup windows by reducing the amount of storage that has to be backed up on a daily basis." Meyer said archiving for messaging such as Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes is also seeing an increase in demand, as customers look for ways to reduce the message stores and help with day-to-day management tasks such as backup and recovery, upgrades and storage growth requirements. The indexing component of e-mail archiving is also of interest to companies with the potential for lawsuits requiring the discovery of e-mail records.
Brain Biles, co-founder and vice president of Data Domain, believes that archiving to disk will grow substantially, especially as capacity optimization techniques spread to minimize the economic difference between tape and disk.
Is Formal Archiving Necessary?
With all the hype surrounding formalized archiving, is it really a better approach to long-term storage of information than just using a backup of files?
Stephen Harding, director of marketing at Tek-Tools, says a real-life answer to this question depends on the needs and resources of any organization. But in broad terms, he contends the answer is "yes."
"Regularly and consistently backing up data can be a costly, time-consuming and problematic process, particularly when a small percentage of data stored in a production environment is actually in active use," says Harding. "Without some sort of archiving policies, organizations may be repeatedly backing up data that hasn't been accessed or modified and that likely has become obsolete."
Harding believes that a logical purpose of such procedures would be insight into the types of data and its uses, since this makes for better data management and storage procedures.
"Archiving policies are an important step in this direction," he says. "The need for better, more cost-effective and efficient data management and storage is only going to become increasingly vital to business operations. Archiving little-used or unused files into manageable and searchable archives decreases the amount of data in the production environment, saves money. and improves disaster recovery service levels."
Clark says the advantage of policy-based data archiving over simple file backup is that customers will be able to retrieve data more quickly for client requests or regulatory compliance issues. Managing data by content and business value will replace bulk back-up processes for most mission-critical applications, he says.
Meyer says much depends on the business value of the information along with the likelihood and frequency that the information will need to be accessed in the future.
"Traditional backups of files create a point-in-time reference, and with tape, the portability to protect data assets," Meyer said, adding that "managing the tapes, hardware and software to access the individual files on the tapes ... becomes the challenge of long-term storage."
For that subset of static data that does not change, the extra burden on the daily backups becomes unmanageable over time, he said, the reason formalized archiving has evolved to solve these challenges.
SRM Market Expected to Heat Up
Storage resource management (SRM) is another technology expected to grow fast as organizations look to better manage storage utilization and begin to automate management functions.
Many in the industry believe that the SRM space has matured in recent years from monitoring and reporting to become a set of practices involving storage, device management, backup monitoring, active management and more.
"What we use to describe as a 'nice-to-have' is certainly becoming a 'have-to-have,' as SRM vendors have a clearer sense of end-user needs and end-users have begun to identify their need to manage capacity and growth," says Harding. "IT infrastructures continue to grow in size, complexity and cost. At the same time, most organizations want those infrastructures to be cost-effective and efficient. Data centers are often run with shrinking staffs. Manual processes take time and are both unreliable and subject to error. Coupling automation with SRM reporting is a logical step towards a total management structure."
Customers can no longer afford to store massive amounts of data in first-class storage containers, says Clark. A hierarchy of containers lets customers more cost-effectively migrate data from one class of resource to another, depending on its availability, performance, security and other requirements.
"But even with multiple classes of storage, resource management is required to ensure that the capacity of each storage class is used efficiently," says Clark. This maximizes ROI and enables customers to rationally cope with explosive data growth, he said.
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