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Are you paying too much for storage?

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New view of storage
Ultimately, the distinctions between low end, midrange and high end-once grounded in capacity and features-are becoming less useful in making decisions about what works for you. New distinctions may be more instructive.

The difference in architecture, more than capacity or features, has led Enterprise Storage Group to revise how it classifies storage. Now it views the high end as monolithic storage compared to the midrange, which it identifies as modular storage.

The features will be similar, but with modular storage "you can pay as you grow," says Prigmore. Organizations simply buy what they need and easily add more storage later as they need it. With monolithic storage, you get a huge capacity at a high price all at once.

But the distinction between monolithic and modular storage goes beyond expandability. It also is about usage. Modular storage will be used as secondary storage or as primary storage for organizations willing to accept occasional service slowdowns and slower recovery.

IDC too is shifting its focus to storage usage. "Over time, we will see more storage system product categories," says Gray. The storage categories will align with how the storage is used, rather than with the size of the organization or the amount of storage. For example, Gray envisions a category of storage for data that won't change often, although it's not quite ready for long-term

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archiving. Another category of storage might handle stored digital media that needs to be streamed out of storage at a steady rate. Each type of storage will combine the appropriate mix of hardware and software features do its particular job.

As a result, a new view of storage is emerging. Instead of high, mid and low ends, storage managers are being encouraged to look at their storage in terms of primary, secondary and specialized, such as backup or archiving. The primary applications may need the rich features of the high end or the midrange, but secondary applications can get away with less capable storage that also happens to cost dramatically less.

That kind of tiered approach may be the only way for companies begin to expand into the petabyte range. Pennies and even fractions of pennies loom large at those volumes. At $0.007/megabyte, a petabyte of storage costs $7 million dollars. That's too high, but all signs point to it coming down.

Web Bonus:
Online resources from SearchStorage.com: "Assessing the cost/benefit ratio for storage quotas," by Paul Hilton.

This was first published in December 2002

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