How new data storage solutions help manage and control data growth

By Jon Brown, TechTarget

Demand for data storage solutions has never been higher, and it shows no sign of abating any time in the near future. Researchers estimate that unstructured data has been growing by as much as 50% annually for the past decade, and there’s no end in sight. About 90% of today’s data has been created in the past two years, so it’s creating big challenges for IT professionals and storage administrators in all areas – primary storage, backup, archiving, data protection and nearline storage.

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Unstructured Data Storage Growth Factors
At the top of the list of key factors driving current and anticipated storage demand are such issues as cloud computing, storage for virtualized environments, disaster recovery/business continuity and the seemingly endless ability of storage technology companies to improve storage capacity, performance and efficiency.

For decades, buying storage was a fairly straightforward process driving for a simple requirement: more storage at cheaper prices by megabyte. The key purchase criteria were often centered on technology choices, such as Fibre Channel vs. iSCSI, or direct attached versus NAS or SAN. But today, storage is a strategic, considered decision, driven more by applications and data usage models than by raw capacity, access times or cost per spindle.

New Solutions for Managing Data Storage Growth
Storage solutions buyers are mixing and matching tried-and-true technologies with a host of exciting new technologies to keep up with the demand, according to SearchStorage.com’s 2013 Purchasing Intentions Survey. Respondents cited storage solutions for unstructured data as the top categories in this year’s survey: 27% of respondents said they intended to purchase DAS file servers for their unstructured data in 2013, with NAS file servers ranking second, at 22%. And clustered storage systems -- an increasingly popular choice for applications requiring extremely high I/O performance and huge capacities -- have seen a big jump: Ten percent of respondents say they intend to purchase clustered file systems in the coming year, an increase of about 33% compared with three years ago.

One development having a big impact on how storage buying decisions will be made is cloud computing -- in particular, its evolution from purely a backup solution to a more strategic one. More than 20% of respondents to the SearchStorage.com survey reported that their organizations were using cloud for some primary or nearline applications, indicating growing acceptance of cloud computing for data storage requirements other than as a cost-effective backup or as a failover mechanism. And 73% said they intend to contract for additional cloud services this year, with disaster recovery and primary data storage being the biggest areas of focus.

High-speed (10 gigabit per second) Ethernet storage and data deduplication for backup head the list of storage technologies already implemented, and solid-state storage is the technology those buyers are most likely to evaluate in the coming 12 months. However, even as solid state continues to enjoy wider adoption due to its impressive performance, growing capacities and attractive cost efficiencies, many storage administrators still seem to be focusing on building out their existing storage arrays until they can free up more budget to devote more aggressively to SSD.

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