Hot storage technologies for 2010


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 By Rich Castagna, Todd Erickson, Chris Griffin, Ellen O'Brien, Beth Pariseau, Carol Sliwa, Sue Troy


VMware backup, solid-state storage, thin provisioning, 8 Gbps Fibre Channel and data deduplication for primary storage: Are these on your 2010 storage to-do list? If not, they should be.

"Hot" -- in reference to enterprise data storage technologies -- can be interpreted in many ways. Hot technologies could be the stuff of dreams that engineers are cooking up in research labs -- but that often takes years, if ever, for real products to emerge. You could also define hot as those emerging technologies that may still be on the cusp of maturity but can have a significant impact on current storage environments.

We favor the latter definition because we think you're more likely to be fighting the storage wars than Star Wars, and would like to be armed with the latest technology available. The five technologies we think will be hot in 2010 may be familiar, but they're still cutting edge while being advanced enough to be practical.

Data backup is still one of the toughest chores in most storage shops, and it got even tougher when server virtualization upset the balance of traditional backup practices. We predict virtual machine backup technologies, already in high gear, will shift even higher with enhanced and new products emerging. Borrowing from the backup world, data deduplication for primary

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storage systems will become more pervasive to help storage admins cope with spiraling disk capacities. And additional disk system efficiencies will be realized as more vendors offer -- and more shops implement -- capacity management tools like thin provisioning.

With solid-state storage, touted by many as the logical evolution from magnetic media, we might be sticking our necks out a bit. But we think the proliferation of new products, dropping prices and intense interest will result in many more deployments in 2010. Our final hot technology is far more evolutionary than revolutionary: 8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC). Although storage array vendors have some catching up to do with 8 Gig, we think this is the year they'll do it.

Backup for virtual servers

VMware Inc. may rule the data center, but for storage administrators virtual server backup was just an afterthought as many companies embarked on server virtualization implementations. Virtual machine (VM) backup is still in its adolescence but maturing fast, with significant developments that should offer some relief for beleaguered backup admins in 2010.

Traditional backup software vendors were slow to respond to the specialized needs of VM backup. Still, many IT organizations stuck with their traditional backup apps for their VMs, which may have distracted those vendors who saw the prospect of selling multiple agent licenses.

But other technologies have emerged to better address the unique needs of virtual server backup. Source-side deduplication and continuous data protection (CDP) products are well-suited to virtual machine backup because they reduce the volume of backup data and therefore lessen the likelihood of I/O contention.

John Merryman, services director at Framingham, Mass.-based GlassHouse Technologies Inc., sees source-side deduplication in products like CommVault Systems Inc.'s Simpana, EMC Corp.'s Avamar and Symantec Corp.'s NetBackup PureDisk as delivering "some pretty tight integration with the ESX environment from a backup perspective."

This was first published in December 2009

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