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Slow to move to networked storage

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Small and medium-sized companies are slow to move to networked storage, according to a Gartner Inc. survey taken at the end of 2002 of storage managers at companies with 100 to 1,000 employees. The survey showed:

Beyond virtualization
Many organizations also find themselves delaying purchasing decisions in part out of concern over the relative immaturity of many networked storage products and the notion that a less expensive solution to their problems is just around the corner. Like Skywalker Sound, Stahls' Terenzi spent time evaluating IP-attached SAN technology before finally settling on the FC SAN approach. Although the Fibre Channel SAN was more expensive, says Terenzi, "the IP stuff is fairly new and because of the mission-critical nature of what we were doing, we decided to go with the Fibre implementation."

Even storage vendors admit that the rapid evolution of the attached storage market--the emergence of iSCSI and IP-attached SANs and concepts such as virtualization--have confused their networked storage marketing message and caused many potential enterprise customers to back off or delay purchases.

"Two years ago, it was all about the V [virtualization] word, how great it was going to be, that you didn't even need to know where your storage was," says Mark Nagaitis, director of product marketing for infrastructure and network-attached storage at Hewlett-Packard in Houston. "But for many customers, the concept proved too complex, and they shied away."

Not surprisingly, vendors say they're on their way to fixing much of the confusion and cost issues that have kept some away from networked storage. That sounds good to the University of Michigan's Hague, who decided against building a centralized storage utility on top of the school's FC SAN because it was too expensive. Hague and his team are planning to propose basing the storage utility project on a new IP-based SAN product from Intransa, which they are now testing. Says Hague: "It's certainly much more affordable."

This was first published in September 2003

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