The Twelve Storage Trends of Christmas


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Analysts and vendors tend to act a lot less seriously at this time of year. In fact, plied with a healthy dose of Christmas cheer (or Christmas beer in some cases), they can get downright frivolous.

Here, they wax lyrically about the 12 storage trends of Christmas:

On the twelve trends for storage, a vendor/analyst said to me

Twelve SANs IPing,
Eleven mergers merging,
Ten SAS drives SASing,
Nine centers shrinking,
Eight G is coming,
Seven vendors milking,
Six CDPing,
Five virtualize,
More acronyms,
Three thumb drives,
Two less tape backups,
And an archive for e-discovery.

And now for the details.

Twelve SANs Iping

Steve Duplessie, senior analyst and founder of Enterprise Strategy Group, believes the title of trend of the year for 2006 should be shared jointly by iSCSI and data de-duplication. Both are now mainstream products, he says, and both are having plenty of money spent on them.

"2007 will be the year where data mattered more than the boxes it was stored on," predicts Duplessie. "New regulations and visibility will mean that categorizing, classifying and treating data differently is going to become the mission of the user. Finding stuff will be more important than storing stuff — finally."

Greg Schulz, senior analyst and founder of StorageIO, is another analyst who is bullish on iSCSI.

"The real turf war, at least for the next couple of years, will not be Fibre Channel versus iSCSI, rather, iSCSI bumping heads with NAS as well as SAS for low-end direct attached markets," says Schulz.

Dan Tanner, founder of storage consultancy ProgresSmart, takes the IP SAN trend a stage further. He believes that within a year, 60 percent of organizations will have implemented IP SANs.

"The move to iSCSI is happening, and Fibre Channel is destined to become legacy technology," says Tanner. "FC is now chasing iSCSI due to speed, commoditization of iSCSI components and the existing wealth of IP know-how."

Eleven Mergers Merging

Brocade and McData, Quantum and ADIC, EMC and just about anyone — it seems that over the last year or so, merger mania has gripped the storage universe. This has given rise to several analyst pronouncements.

"M&A has continued at a strong pace — EMC, HP and Cisco acquiring several startups, Brocade acquiring McData — indicating that the storage industry is consolidating," says Ashish Nadkarni, a consultant at GlassHouse Technologies. "Cisco will emerge as the leader in the SAN infrastructure space and the combined Brocade/McData will struggle to maintain its present position."

Tanner traces the origins of the current M&A craze to what occurred during the 1980s, when many companies trimmed down their R&D budgets and shifted the focus from in-house development to buying promising startups. The problem is that most companies do a poor job of merging.

"NetApp does a terrible job of integration, as they have done little to date with Spinnaker and have failed to turn the Alacritus deal into a CDP product," says Tanner. "EMC does a much better job of integration."

Ten Centers Shrinking

Thomas Edsall, senior vice president for the data center business unit at Cisco Systems, is big on consolidation. He sees it coming on several fronts.

"Driven by the reduction in WAN/Metro costs, regulatory pressures and capital/operating expenditure savings, customers are consolidating multiple data centers into fewer centers," says Edsall "These new data centers have thousands of storage ports and are driving the deployment of higher density director chassis and business continuance applications across optical and IP infrastructure."

He also sees server consolidation as a part of this trend, driven by the deployment of blade servers and virtual machine technologies. This, he says, is accelerating the movement away from direct attached storage (DAS).

Nine SAS Drives SASing

Serial attached SCSI (SAS) continues to grow in adoption as a replacement for parallel SCSI in embedded applications such as servers, blade servers and low- to mid-range storage arrays.

"As a storage interface, continued rollout on servers and appliances for direct attach applications to support both SAS and SATA continues, with some storage interface border wars between iSCSI on one front and Fibre Channel on the other," says Schulz. "SAS disk drives will continue to do well in the market place in 2007." Eight G is Coming

Edsall also foresees the rapid arrival of 8G Fibre Channel by the end of 2007. But the transition from 2G to 4G will dominate, he says.

"The market is still absorbing 4G technology," says Edsall. "The cost and distance limitations associated with 8G, plus no clear IO requirements for 8G, will push off widespread deployments out to late 2008."

Seven Vendors Milking

A few years back, it was all about storage hardware. The spotlight shifted briefly to software, but now storage services are coming more and more into the spotlight. The emphasis appears to have shifted from products to how they are implemented.

"I expect storage services to continue to grow with an even stronger demand around IT information infrastructure," says Nadkarni. "IT shops will need a lot of assistance in getting all the various components of their infrastructure talking to each other and product vendors will fall short of their aspirations in the services market."

Cisco, too, is upbeat about services. Edsall sees regulatory compliance as driving SAN Services. HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulatory pressures are forcing companies to look at ways to implement business continuity over distance.

"This accelerated the deployment of applications such as EMC's SRDF or HP's Continuous Access and focused customers preferences for SAN technology optimizing those applications," says Edsall. "Customers have looked for solutions that can enhance I/O over distance for these applications in a secure manner."

He sees this as playing to Cisco's strength in SAN services, along with a general mushrooming in the service sector to deal with identity theft, encryption, data movement, CDP, provisioning and business continuity.

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