Ask the Expert

2004 NAS predictions: NAS gateways, SAN/NAS convergence hype and SRM solutions for NAS

NAS expert Randy Kerns takes a look at what he sees coming down the NAS road for 2004. He predicts NAS gateways are going to continue to play a big part in the coming year, NAS will grow in the enterprise data centers and big vendor players will stay on top while small vendor players will continue to search for their niche.

Take a look at Randy's 2003 predictions. Did he hit it just right?

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NAS will continue to experience and increase in revenue and in deployment in the SMB and enterprise data center markets. The SMB market will be an exceptionally bright area for growth due to the minimal administrative effort required in a market segment that has few administrative people and fewer storage professionals.

The rich will get richer in the NAS market. The smaller players and those that seek a specialty niche may have some successes but they won't have a noticeable impact on the major players such as Network Appliance and EMC. Both those companies are very nimble and have new or enhanced products to continue to be very competitive. For the smaller companies, if their business models permit, can be successful but won't challenge the major companies (no matter what their hyperactive marketing people might say).

The SAN/NAS convergence in its many forms was not a customer driven issue but was driven by vendors and over hyped by the media. Combined or unified, SAN and NAS devices have not been a major factor and will not be in 2004. There are many reasons for this including the different people involved in purchasing and deployment as well as concerns about performance balancing.

NAS gateways will be the primary entry point for NAS vendors into the enterprise data center space. In 2004, the trend to consolidate NAS file serving for departments into central IT will continue to accelerate which will lead the storage professionals to deploy NAS gateways to take advantage of established SAN resources by using NAS gateways.

In 2004 we will see SRM solutions begin to adequately report on NAS devices and a few solutions actually start to manage them. This will be a major development in moving NAS under the storage professional in IT.

Randy Kerns

From the editor: For more on NAS issues and technologies check out Randy's Ask the Expert Q&As in our Information Center. Also, browse through the SAN/NAS technical tips and trends for the latest on networking.

This was first published in December 2003

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