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Hot technologies for 2011

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1. Automated storage tiering

With all the major storage vendors offering it, and solid-state storage fueling its need, the conditions are ripe for automated storage tiering to take off in 2011.

Until now, moving data between storage tiers such as Fibre Channel (FC) and SATA disks has largely been a manual or semi-automatic process. A Storage magazine poll done earlier this year revealed that 54% of respondents migrated data by manual or only partially automated means, and only 32% used automation tools.

But IT shops that adopt solid-state drives (SSDs) for their I/O-intensive applications might want to roll out the welcome mat for automated tiering. Given their price, ultra-fast SSDs generally make economic sense only for application workloads with the highest performance requirements.

"The increasing usage of SSDs is going to be a big driver for automated tiering," said Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst at Taneja Group in Hopkinton, Mass. "The moment you bring in SSD, the power and the performance of that tier is so high relative to Fibre Channel that good usage of that SSD tier is all dependent on auto tiering."

"It was very difficult to be able to afford enough SSD if you were purely going to use it as a static storage device," noted Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "Now that people will be able to combine tiering with a smaller

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amount of SSD, I think the two go hand in glove."

IT shops will find plenty of automated storage tiering options that promise to migrate data to the right place at the right time. Some carry a fee; others are built into storage systems. Product differentiators include the level of granularity at which the data moves between tiers, the degree of automation and the extent to which users can define policies.

"Everyone does it differently," said John Webster, a senior partner at Broomfield, Colo.-based Evaluator Group Inc. "And there's a lot of variability in the way you buy this."

This was first published in December 2010

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