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ILM Drives Surge in Storage Services

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Without much fanfare, storage services has been the only growth area in storage for the last decade. As well as traditional areas such as consulting, implementation/integration and support, the last couple of years have seen a sharp incline in such services as outsourced backup, offsite archiving and on-demand storage.

“From $23.4 billion in 2003, the storage services sector will surge above $30 billion by 2008.”

—Doug Chandler, program director, IDC.

According to International Data Corp (IDC) of Framingham, Mass., the storage services sector will continue to expand over the next five years.

"From $23.4 billion in 2003, the storage services sector will surge above $30 billion by 2008," said Doug Chandler, program director at IDC.

IDC breaks the market down into four key segments. Storage support has the lion's share of services, followed by integration, then management and consulting. While consulting may have been a gravy train in the late '90s, things have changed sharply since the bubble burst. Chandler notes that there is clearly a limited budget among storage professionals for anything that smells like consulting.

There are a number of key players in this market. The Big Four of the services world of Accenture, CG&Y, Deloitte & Touche and Bearing Point. Then there are large outsourcing giants like IBM, EDS and CSC who have seen a huge increase in storage provision in recent years. Niche players in the services market include Zantaz, Iron Mountain and GlassHouse.

"There is no doubt that IBM's outsourcing business is a big driver of the company's storage services engagements," said Chandler.

Tiered Storage Opportunity
Two new movements could cause a major boost to storage services: tiered storage and information lifecycle management (ILM).

Tiered storage may be in the news a lot, but it has a ways to go before it becomes an everyday part of storage architectures. A recent IDC survey shows that most large storage environments (defined as 5 TB or more) have yet to adopt tiered storage. About 25 percent have implemented it, another 5 percent are exploring it and the rest have, so far, left it alone.

At the other end of the spectrum, in small storage environments (defined as less than 500 GB), almost 90 percent of respondents have no ongoing, tiered storage project. Further, they express reluctance to deploy it if it means heavy expenditure in services.

"Many customers serious about ILM and/or tiered storage will need help assessing what they have," said Chandler. "But if tiered storage or ILM means a heavy services spend, customers will limit their adoption."

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IDC reports that customers are most interested in tiered storage as a means of making storage management easier, to improve information access, reduce costs and meet compliance requirements. Compliance, however, is an area where companies are reluctant to commit to an increase in services budgets. Only 11 percent of those surveyed agreed that compliance equated to an increase in services spending.

“ILM will drive the services market as companies strive to migrate data to different classes of storage according to perceived value.”
When it comes to delivering services, therefore, companies will be looking for help to choose the right architecture and to organize information among the various storage tiers. While some hardware/software combos may take care of some aspects of tiering, the reality is that the complexity of modern storage environments will drive enterprises to bring in outside help to design and implement an efficient tiered storage structure.

Economical, high-capacity media will be used to facilitate backup and rapid restore, leaving higher performance storage for transactional data and tape archiving or other media for archiving.

"High-capacity, low-cost hard disk drives are ripe for fixed content and tape backup facilitation," said Dave Reinsel, an analyst at IDC. "By 2007, as few as 21 percent of the units shipped will account for over 40 percent of the TB's of storage."

Not surprisingly, vendors are working hard to satisfy the growing demand for high capacity, low-cost arrays. And according to IDC, this will fuel further growth in storage services.

Similarly, ILM will drive the services market as companies strive to migrate data to different classes of storage according to perceived value. IDC says ILM and tiered storage are a close fit. Essentially, ILM systems and processes will manage and organize information according to a hierarchy as follows:

  • High performance enterprise arrays – for high-performance applications
  • Performance-optimized mid tier disk arrays – offering good performance and rapid access
  • Capacity optimized disk arrays – for streaming media, disk-to-disk backup and staging
  • Archival storage – for near-line storage, removable media, offline and archival storage.
As you move up the ladder, of course, costs increase. But that is far more acceptable than buying an expensive storage system and filling it with everything you have.

Cost is King
While services represent a burgeoning market, the continuation of frugality with regard to budgets means that services are still a tough sell. Those thriving in the marketplace typically wrap those services around integration, outsourcing and product support. And, they present them as a smart way to cut costs.

"Customers are focused on driving down costs and driving up utilization," said Chandler. "Services, therefore, must be sold and delivered in this context."

Adapted from Enterprise IT Planet.com

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