2009: Do more with less


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Once again, the storage protocol of choice in 2009 will be Fibre Channel (FC), but not by last year's wide margin. This time, 49% say they'll add an FC array in 2009, a considerable drop from the 65% who had the same plans last year. Much of that difference has been taken up by plans to acquire iSCSI systems, with 34% suggesting they'll go that route--a six point hike from last year. FC is still king in large enterprises, with 80% of them planning to add FC arrays next year. But iSCSI is popular across the board, with approximately 33% of those surveyed (regardless of company size) indicating that it's in their 2009 plans. (See "Planned purchases: Types of storage arrays," below.)

Thomas & King's DeMersseman would like to replace an aging EMC Corp. CX array next year, putting the escalating maintenance costs toward the purchase of a new array. "I hate to throw that kind of money against old technology," he says, noting that he has little excess capacity now. "If we have any new line-of-business applications that come online in 2009, we don't have any storage left on our SAN."

Many storage shops are attempting to address increased disk storage demands by considering new technologies that make better use of installed capacity and manage it more effectively. Among those technologies, thin provisioning has provoked the most interest among our survey group, with 55%

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of respondents indicating they'll deploy or evaluate that technology in 2009; enterprises show an even keener interest in thin provisioning with a 63% rating. The rise in interest in thin provisioning (only 41% expected to deploy or evaluate it last year) can be attributed to it being offered by most storage vendors as a built-in or add-on component. It's also one of the easiest methods of ensuring that installed capacity doesn't lie allocated and unused because it doles out disk space only when it's actually needed, thus avoiding overprovisioning.

Last year, file virtualization was the most popular disk management technology, with 55% expressing plans to implement or evaluate it. That figure fell to 44% this year, but that drop is almost identical to the big jump in the number of those who have already implemented file virtualization. Last year, approximately 12% of those surveyed said they had virtualized their file system storage; this year, 22% have done so. Block virtualization also garners considerable interest, with 49% (about the same as last year) saying they'll look into it or deploy it in 2009.

Based on vendor pitches these days, you'd expect "green" storage to be the top priority for every storage manager. Everyone is looking to reduce power and cooling costs, but with so many shops struggling just to keep up with the storage requirements of their business units, green hasn't yet risen to top of mind in most cases, according to our survey. Its lack of traction may also be attributed to storage vendors' sometimes questionable conservation claims. Whether it's one or both of these factors, power concerns still aren't pivotal issues for most storage managers. Thirty-eight percent of respondents to this year's survey say storage equipment's power and cooling requirements were either minor considerations or not factors at all in their purchase plans. Only 12% (slightly off from last year's 15%) indicate that power consumption is a very important factor that could determine their final choice in equipment selection. On a more promising note, 48% say power issues are important factors even if they wouldn't determine a final choice (see "How much will power and cooling influence storage systems purchases?" below).

This was first published in December 2008

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