Hot technologies in 2004


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For the last few years, enterprise storage has been a game that only the big boys could really play effectively. Only they had the resources to build storage area networks (SANs), mirror massive amounts of data and replicate data over long distances. In 2004, new technologies will dramatically lower the price of networked storage, opening the door for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to finally get their chance to try out advanced storage strategies for themselves.

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Storage management standards
2004 promises to be a breakthrough year for storage management standards, which are considered essential if multivendor, cross-platform storage management is to become a practical reality. Leading the standards effort is the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). It is planning to put out its first industry storage management road map along with its newly released management specification, the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), V. 1.0. Vendors have already started writing to the SMI-S specification, which is being rushed to ANSI for certification.

"Our goal is for 50% of new products to be SMI-S compliant in 2004," says Sheila Childs, SNIA chairwoman. SNIA hopes to achieve the following milestones: SMI-S, V. 1.1, slated for completion in the fall of 2004 and 100% SMI-S compliance for new products in 2005.

To ascertain SMI-S compliance, SNIA has introduced the Interoperability Conformance Test Program (ICTP).

And what are the technologies they will be able to seriously play with? Storage networking has been brought within their reach by iSCSI, affordable data replication using IP and tons of flexible, low-cost storage capacity courtesy of serial ATA (SATA).

"2004 will see major [storage] infrastructure changes for midsize companies," says Arun Taneja, consulting analyst at the Taneja Group, Hopkinton, MA. The march to networked storage by large companies that started four years ago as they began adopting Fibre Channel (FC) SANs will likely accelerate in 2004, as midsize companies start using iSCSI.

There will be many factors driving the storage industry in 2004. Companies will continue to consolidate storage, moving from direct-attached storage (DAS) to networked storage. The benefits are compelling: increased management efficiency and utilization levels as high as 85% to 90%, resulting in lower TCO and higher ROI.

Second, the economy is improving and companies are saying they'll buy more storage. In a recent Storage magazine survey of 500 managers, 58% plan to increase spending in 2004. (See "Surviving and thriving: facing recession and growth".) Of those planning increases, 46% plan increases of 5% or greater.

Hard-strapped IT departments working at recession-level staffing, however, can expect little relief in terms of hiring or significant pay increases, despite increased IT spending. For example, although a large number of Storage survey respondents intend to increase spending on storage management, more than half of them are doing so with the primary objective to manage more storage with the same or fewer staff.

Third, government regulatory compliance is forcing companies to spend more money on their storage infrastructure. HIPAA regulations, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Patriot Act and various financial industry edicts mandate that companies store more data and protect it, often by replicating it to distant locations.

Yet what's not a factor is the technology itself. None of the analysts, consultants or managers interviewed for this report expect any major storage technology breakthroughs. At best, they expect modest technology enhancements and continued price/performance improvements for the technologies they are deploying.

Here are Storage's picks of technologies that will be hot in 2004:

  • SAN/NAS gateways: permit NAS/SAN integration
  • iSCSI: provides the foundation for IP-based storage
  • SATA: enables organizations to capitalize on inexpensive disk capacity to drive down costs
  • Storage resource management (SRM): ushers in a new generation of storage management capabilities
These products aren't new, but in 2004, they'll emerge as key building blocks of the storage infrastructure. The selection of these building blocks isn't based on sales, market share or vendor drum beating, but are conclusions reached after discussions with leading storage analysts and managers, combined with the observations of Storage editors and writers. Results from Storage's survey also reinforce these findings.

This was first published in December 2003

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