Predicting Storage Growth for 2004 and Beyond, Part 2

Thursday May 27th 2004 by Leslie Wood
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Predicting Storage Growth for 2004 and Beyond, Part 2

The amount of new storage capacity installed each year is growing almost 80% annually, according to IDC. And companies across the globe are on the lookout for technologies to help them manage and store the ever-increasing amounts of information flowing in and out of their networks.

“Automating management without input from the system's real users will create a system that doesn't serve its customers.”

John Lallier, FalconStor


With the volume of data soaring and new regulations requiring that it be kept safe and secure, storage users will have to navigate a rapidly changing landscape in coming years. In this, the second part of a series on storage trends, we examine storage management and archiving, among other issues.

To keep pace with the booming storage capacity, IDC predicts that storage managers will have to become 60% more efficient each year, as measured in gigabytes per storage manager, or companies will have to increase the percentage of IT staff devoted to storage management tasks.

One of the major issues facing companies is whether users will be able to automate storage management without having to use dedicated storage management teams.

Some companies are responding to the growing demands with systems that are simpler to install and manage.

"Many of the large manufacturers continue to produce systems that require days, weeks, or longer to learn how to operate and support," says Diamond Lauffin, senior vice president at Nexsan Technologies. "Fortunately, for end users, there are companies that have eliminated the 'black magic' and are producing systems that are brain dead to implement."

Zophar Sante, marketing vice president at SANRAD, agrees. "It's really up to storage system vendors to supply the industry with easy and simple storage automation tools as part of their solution," he says. "I think you'll find that new storage infrastructure products entering the market have built-in automation tools so that complex integration is not required."

John Lallier, vice president of technology at FalconStor, still sees the need for a strong storage management team.

"A management team requires not only people with knowledge of the storage hardware and software, but also people with knowledge of the data that's being stored," Lallier says. "Automating management without input from the system's real users will create a system that doesn't serve its customers."

Page 2: Email Archiving, Virtualization Are Hot-Button Issues

Continued from Page 1

Email Archiving, Virtualization Are Hot-Button Issues

Another issue is whether email archiving products will come to dominate the overall archiving market. Lallier says email is the largest archiving issue for data centers because of its explosive growth. "Everyone in the organization uses it, as opposed to databases, and the storage needs are constantly growing," he says. "With the compliance regulations now required in various industries, archiving and controlling this data will become an even more critical requirement."

However, Lauffin says that while the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 has caused quite a stir, financial data and other information such as film and historical archives are equally important. "One of the areas that I do not see people in the industry talking about is that there is a whole lot of data that customers actually want to keep that is on tape, and the educated end users know that they have a finite amount of time to get that data off of tape and onto something offering more permanence and reliability," he says.

"I am working with many companies on migrating data from older technology to systems that offer much greater reliability," Lauffin continues, "and in overall dollars I believe that there is as much new revenue to be generated from these types of projects as from new projects like email archiving."

Storage virtualization is another issue, with some saying it will be some time before the technology improves storage utilization. Lallier says storage virtualization alone cannot improve storage utilization, since it is a tool, not a solution. "It has to be used as part of an overall plan to reorganize the different data sets that an organization collects and maintains," he says. "In this, it is no different from archiving tools."

Sante, on the other hand, sees value in virtualization, adding that block-level virtualization within a SAN is a requirement. "For example," he says, "I have a SAN with a single $100,000 storage system with 10TB of capacity. I have 20 servers on the SAN and each server needs different GBs of capacity ... How can I even have a SAN like this without storage virtualization?"

Lauffin says virtualization only improves the way that companies work with data — it does not decrease the amount of storage space. "Virtualization makes moving data and adding more storage very easy for end users, but most end users of the caliber that would purchase a virtualization package developed their own approach years ago to maximize their storage efficiency," he says. "So a quality of life improvement is virtualization's greatest feature."

Page 3: SAN Management Predictions

Continued from Page 2

SAN Management Predictions

Some analysts predict that by 2006, storage area network (SAN) management functions will be embedded as part of storage element managers and storage resource management tools.

Sante says he sees this happening because such functions belong off servers and clients attached to the SAN and should migrate to the storage solutions. "I can talk for days about this, because users want to simplify their application servers and use them for the applications, and they want their storage infrastructure to provide access security, archiving, high availability, backup and recovery, and so on," he says.

Lauffin says he agrees because many of today's applications are not really applications, but utilities. "Years ago, programs like scan disk and defrag programs were sold as mainstream applications, but today these applications are simple embedded utilities," he explains.

Lauffin adds that there are many SAN management applications that fit into the same category. In addition, he says applications that are based on virtualization, online capacity expansion, and the like will also become embedded utilities. Lauffin says the type of applications or programs that will remain as apps will be databases, accounting, CRM, and similar functions, but he expects backup to become an embedded utility.

"Look at the caliber of features in the latest Microsoft operating system, and Oracle just implemented a backup feature for their database as long as you're going to disk," Lauffin continues. "It's not fully here today, but the writing is clearly on the wall."

With no end in sight to the exponential growth of enterprise data, it seems that the only way to control the cost is for companies to manage the data while ensuring its protection. While the storage industry has begun to address these issues, the future of enterprise storage management will continue to rely on a combination of the intelligence of storage technologies, the ability of storage vendors to create user-friendly products, and a storage management commitment from enterprises.

» See All Articles by Columnist Leslie Wood

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