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How we gathered our data: For a two-week period in September 2003, the Taneja Group, Hopkinton, MA, conducted Web-based surveys with qualified subscribers of Storage magazine. Several questions and the subscriberÍs responses were used to qualify the survey respondents from the Storage readership list. The Taneja Group qualified the subscriber list based on job title, size of primary storage environment (more than 10TB) and by industry. Phone interviews were also conducted with IT executives at large (50TB+) and midrange (10TB to 50TB) storage environments as part of this study. A total of 235 subscribers took the Web-based survey with 20 one-on-one interviews. Anyone interested in buying the full study can e-mail report@tanejagroup.com for details.
As backup and recovery becomes more of a chief concern in the data center, storage managers are looking to new technologies to make the process easier. Tape isn't going away, but it will be increasingly joined by disk as a core backup technology, according to a new survey of 235 Storage magazine subscribers.

The survey, part of a comprehensive study called "Next-Generation Backup and Recovery Solutions: A Study of Customer Requirements" was recently conducted by Storage and the Taneja Group, in Hopkinton, MA, an analyst firm specializing in storage. The study examines how and why storage managers will deploy disk-based backup technologies in 2004 and beyond.

Taneja Group defines next-generation backup and recovery as "any software or hardware solution that leverages a disk-based storage platform to provide new functionality or new efficiencies to a secondary storage environment."

Disk on the horizon
While disk-based backup hasn't yet had an easy or swift acceptance, Storage subscribers say that disk-based backup solutions are poised to appear as staging areas in many large data centers in the coming year. In general, such disks will be used for a minority of the backup workload.

The survey also found that there's a high level of confidence that buying disk will be well worth it down the road. More than three-quarters of respondents report that they expect the TCO of disk-based backup to be better than tape, with 24% expecting disk to provide a substantially better TCO than tape. (See Figure 3) Going forward, it appears disk is an investment that many users are ready to make.

Vijay Sonty, the CTO of Foote Cone & Belding, a marketing services firm in New York City, says that "[there] is a very good possibility that no data will go directly to tape." Sonty praises the advantages of disk-based storage such as faster backup and recovery times, and storing data on a medium that "may have fewer compatibility problems with future technology."

Still, few end users are ready to throw away their tapes, as only a few respondents say they plan to deploy disk for all of their backup requirements. The respondents indicate that tape and disk will be living together for a long time. Only 5% of respondents plan to back up all their data to disk in the next year and the majority (76%) will have a mixed tape and disk environment. (See Figure 2) To confirm the entrenched nature of tape in most large enterprise environments, respondents were asked to quantify the media types they're using in their environments. On average, respondents are backing up 81% of their data to tape.

So, despite recent challenges from cheaper disk such as ATA, tape remains the preferred backup medium and cornerstone of most backup plans. This is especially true for most disaster recovery and remote backup storage. With tape archived remotely, says John Leitgeb, director of IT at a California manufacturing firm, "if something bad happens it won't wipe out your enterprise."

Yet, disk is looming on the horizon, not as a replacement to tape but as a complementary technology. Almost half of the end users we surveyed are in the evaluation stage for disk-based storage, with another sizable chunk (26%) already in the deployment phase (see Figure 1). While 28% have not yet evaluated disk-based technology for their secondary storage, this percentage is expected to drop as the benefits of disk-based backup become evident for many large storage users.

This was first published in January 2004

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