Brighter outlook for storage budgets


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Where those disk dollars go

Whether they're Fibre Channel or iSCSI, midrange systems account for the biggest chunk of storage system spending. Overall, storage managers say 45% of their systems dollars are designated for midrange arrays, pretty much the same figure we've seen for the past three years.

But complete systems don't account for the biggest portion of all disk-related spending. In a trend we saw developing all the way back in the spring of 2007, storage managers continue to earmark the largest percentage of their disk budget (36%) to buying disks to add to already installed systems. Four years ago, FC arrays won this race hands down with a 59% share, but today that number has dwindled to 17%, just a couple of points higher than new NAS systems (15%) and new multiprotocol arrays (13%).

As for who storage managers are buying their arrays from, EMC Corp. is still king of the hill with 31% of respondents noting they've bought an array from EMC or intend to buy one before the year is out. Second-place Hewlett-Packard Co., with 29%, has certainly narrowed the gap (which has been as high as 11 points on past surveys). IBM, Dell Inc., NetApp and Hitachi Data Systems round out the rest of the top six choices.

Solid interest in solid state

It's expensive, its reliability might be suspect and it's too soon to tell if solid-state storage can make it in enterprise environments, but the technology is really, really hot.

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Fifteen percent of respondents are using solid-state storage -- almost double the number reported one year ago. Add to that another 9% who are implementing solid state this year (triple the fall 2009 number) and the 32% who are evaluating it, and you have some pretty impressive numbers for a fledgling technology. Last year, 54% had no plans related to solid-state storage, but that figure dipped to 45% this time.

So far, the most popular place to put solid-state drives (SSDs) is in traditional arrays (61%); that's not much of a surprise as practically every disk system vendor currently offers an SSD option, and a growing number of vendors -- including Fujitsu, Intel Corp., Pliant Technology Inc., STEC Inc., Seagate and Toshiba among others -- make solid-state storage in standard disk formats like SATA and SAS. Approximately 44% of those questioned use SSDs in their servers, while 26% have implemented solid state in the form of caching appliances that sit in front of hard disk systems.

However, price is still a deterrent for plenty of storage managers and it's the top reason (57%) for not implementing solid-state storage. Thirty-seven percent of respondents passed on solid-state drives because their hard disk performance is sufficient, while 31% feel they just need to learn more about solid-state storage before making a purchase.

This was first published in October 2010

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