Storage budget recovery on a roll

Rich Castagna, Editorial Director

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Disk systems: A mix of new and old techs

Most of the installed (and anticipated) disk capacity is still residing on network-attached storage (NAS) and Fibre Channel (FC) arrays. By capacity, 61% of respondents reported that they’re using NAS while 59% said they were FC storage users -- numbers that are in line with the results of both of last year’s surveys. But taken in a larger context, there’s a slow and steady shift taking place on the block storage side, with iSCSI progressively horning in on Fibre Channel’s turf. In the spring of 2008, FC accounted for 70% of installed capacity vs. iSCSI at 27%; this time, iSCSI has narrowed the gap considerably with 43% (vs. 59% for Fibre Channel).

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Forty-one percent of respondents have either installed a new iSCSI system or plan to this year, a figure comparable to the results on the past few surveys, suggesting the technology has attained a level of market maturity. This trend is bolstered by the high confidence levels those users demonstrate: 47% said they’ll run some of their mission-critical apps on iSCSI storage. That’s the highest number we’ve ever seen.

The sustained interest in iSCSI storage is also reflected in how storage managers plan to divvy up their systems-buying budget dollars. Nearly half (49%) will go to midrange systems, the highest percentage we’ve seen, as buying plans for high-end systems continue to recede. But, as we’ve seen for the past four-plus years, buying new systems isn’t a priority at many companies as 35% of all money going toward disk storage products is earmarked to buy additional drives for already installed systems. We expected that trend to shift back to new systems as firms refreshed their storage technologies, but it looks like the recession may have pushed those refreshes out two or three years.

File data is the fastest growing data type, but despite the increasing burden it places on most data storage operations, we haven’t seen much of a shift from traditional file storage methods. In 2011, money for file storage will be spread over several technologies, with the top three -- direct-attached storage (DAS) (22%), NAS systems (22%) and NAS gateways fronting storage-area networks (SANs) (18%) -- overshadowing newer techs like file virtualization and NAS clustering.

Regardless of what type of storage a shop might be looking to acquire, the price of the product will be a major factor in the purchase decision. When we asked respondents what the most important factor was in their choice of a primary disk system vendor, features and functions (as usual) came out on top with 32%. But the next most important factor -- surpassing tech support and dealing with a familiar vendor -- was price, as indicated by 22% of those surveyed. That may not be a particularly high number, but it’s the highest we’ve seen price rated as a factor.

This was first published in May 2011

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