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Continuous Data Protection (CDP) has been the subject of an awful lot of hype. But as it becomes better understood, its potential is showing signs of being realized.
CDP has also been a hot area on the acquisition front. EMC, for instance, acquired Kashya.
There are many approaches to CDP, and companies must understand these and the tradeoffs involved," cautions Tanner.
He points out, for instance, that some CDP products focus purely on one item such as e-mail backup or database protection, while others try to apply CDP across a wider realm. What you gain in width, however, you may lose in consistency.
"The CDP decision should include where in the stack you do your protection," says Tanner. "As you go lower, CDP becomes more general, but has a less consistent image for every file."
He says companies are mainly adopting it at the higher level for the most critical applications. They are showing the strongest interest in CDP tools that apply to specific functions such as Oracle databases or e-mail backup.
Virtualization is top of mind with most analysts. Clive Longbottom, an analyst with UK-based consultancy Quocirca Ltd., says virtualization has become the norm, and this has led to storage tiering taking center stage, i.e., using different types of storage within the virtualized space for different things, such as virtual tape, staged backup, and so on.
"The primary driver behind the ongoing wave of storage virtualization is the need to get a grip on data and information assets for regulation and compliance," says Longbottom. "Cost is also important, as organizations have to ensure that their storage assets are utilized to a higher level than currently."
Schulz, too, has plenty to say about virtualization in storage. Initially, he sees file system virtualization, also known as NAS aggregation or global/clustered name spaces, as taking center stage. Over the course of the year, storage administrators will see the effects in terms of simplifying NAS and file management.
"Later in 2007 and moving into 2008, we should see the long awaited and discussed switch-based storage virtualization market pick up," predicts Schulz. "This will center around data movement and migration rather than on the pooling of volumes."
What will help make switch-based virtualization and transparent data movement possible, Schulz says, will be a number of factors: faster, more robust storage services modules or blades; continued evolution of software from vendors such as Topio (now NetApp), StoreAge (now LSI), Kashya (now EMC), Fujitsu and others that already support multiple storage switches from the likes of Brocade, Cisco and QLogic; more focus on requirements such as data movement and migration instead of LUN and volume pooling; and big-name vendors providing software to run on switch-based storage services modules (NetApp, LSI/Engenio, EMC, and so on).
But not everyone is head over heels in love with virtualization. Cisco remains a major holdout, despite what the rest of the market is saying.
"Storage virtualization is still a wait-and-see application," says Edsall. "Customers are waiting for more widespread deployment and acceptance of storage virtualization in mainstream production environments."
After only two years in the spotlight, could it be goodbye for information lifecycle management (ILM)? Instead of ILM, it could be II or IIM or ITII. II let's hope the first big user is the U.S. Navy stands for information infrastructure. Tag on an M for management or IT for information technology and you have the acronym de jour.
"I expect the likes of Cisco, HP, IBM, Network Appliance, HDS and EMC making a bigger play for the 'information infrastructure' market via yet more acquisitions," says Nadkarni. "That means the industry as a whole will jump on this bandwagon by replacing ILM."
Three Thumb Drives
Longbottom sketches out another trend to watch in storage the demand to manage mobile storage assets. This includes PDAs, smartphones, thumb drives and various other devices. By their very nature, they are going to be left in unfortunate places or pilfered by criminals. Thus security of mobile data is critical.
"With a thumb drive now capable of holding up to 8Gb, they are becoming major security holes for companies," says Longbottom. "Loss of a single thumb drive, or leaving PDAs and cell phones on trains or taxis with zero security, opens up interesting legal ramifications."
Less Tape Backups
Disk to disk backup is certainly catching hold. And that trend will broaden over the next 12 months. M&A activity is also reflecting this witness Avamar's acquisition by EMC.
"Backup to other than tape is now a definite and unwavering trend," says Tanner. "There are so many alternatives these days de-duplication, data reduction/compression, reducing traffic on WAN, etc. and it is all converging."
An Archive for e-Discovery
An unfortunate thing happened a couple of years back: lawyers began to understand the legal ramifications of e-mail. Since then, they have been having a ball wrapping corporate resources up in tracing e-mail in what is now known as the e-discovery process. Veritable fishing expeditions are now the norm, as lawyers seek to search years of e-mail to find one stray comment or faux-pas. And it's the corporations that have to foot the bill or face hefty fines and even lose major cases as a result.
"I see a massive impact of e-discovery on the way data is stored and archived," says Mike Karp, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates. "Everyone's going to be in court at some point, so you might as well be prepared."
He notes that only a few vendors to date have comprehensive solutions. The rest are still learning what it all means ... just like most IT managers and lawyers.
And that's what's under the storage Christmas tree for 2006.
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