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Storage growth drives buying plans

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Disaster recovery tops data protection priorities
After an apparent blip in the fall of 2005, tape usage seems to be leveling off as disk-based techniques gain further acceptance for backup and disaster recovery. Forty percent of respondents say they're increasing their use of tape, a figure considerably higher than the 31% recorded a year and a half ago, but down substantially from last fall's 48%. More significantly, 20% say they're decreasing their tape usage, while 49% indicate they won't buy any tape

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libraries in 2006. That proportion of storage managers opting not to add any tape libraries to their environment matches the level of two years ago, and may indicate that users now have a little breathing room after beefing up their backup infrastructures over the past two years.

Among those who will be making tape library purchases, LTO is the overwhelming favorite tape format, with 60% of respondents saying their new libraries will support that format (see "LTO is clear choice for tape media"). LTO has risen steadily over the past three years, mostly at the expense of DLT and SDLT formats. Among LTO buyers, LTO-3 sprung ahead in the latest survey, leading LTO-1 and LTO-2 by 37% and 23%, respectively, which is essentially a reversal of last fall's numbers. The sudden surge can be attributed to the consistent drop in LTO-3 drive and media prices (as reported monthly in "The Real Deal" in our Trends section), which on a capacity-per-dollar basis, pegs LTO-3 at a lower cost than earlier LTO generations.

Although tape's days as a backup medium are far from numbered, it's impossible to overlook disk's steady incursion into the backup environment. Fifty-eight percent of users--the largest portion recorded in our surveys to date--say they'll increase spending for disk-based backup products. This is yet more proof that disk has assumed a key role in data protection strategies at a majority of companies (see "Disk-to-disk backup established as core data protection technology"). The overwhelming impetus for injecting disk into the process is to improve backup performance so that growing data stores can be backed up within the allotted window (see "Speedy backups key reason for D2D"). For 42% of those who haven't ventured into disk-based backup, the reason is simple--their current tape-based systems are handling the job fine. Philips Semiconductors' Williamson says his firm's tape-based backup works well. "The whole thing with disk sounds great in theory," he says. Adding disk to the mix might make life a little easier, he notes, "but it costs money."

"We are looking at some of the devices that emulate tape," says Crossmark's Orndorff. In the meantime, Crossmark does use disk in its backup process, taking advantage of the lower cost Fibre Attached Technology Adapted (FATA) disk in its HP EVA array. "We do scheduled dumps to disk and then we back that up," explains Orndorff. "That's what we use the FATA drives for."

WAN expenditures will likely remain flat in 2006, with the percentage of respondents increasing or holding the line on WAN budgets approximately the same as last fall. Disaster recovery is the runaway leading reason for WAN purchases, as reported by 70% of respondents vs. 60% last fall. More than 50% of those surveyed also say remote replication will be their primary storage-related disaster recovery expenditure in 2006, a number confirmed by remote-mirroring spending plans, where 43% plan increased spending.

Archiving apps have also established a presence in many shops to protect data and reduce the amount of online data that applications have to churn through. File-system archivers have the largest installed base (34%), followed by e-mail (30%) and database archiving (22%) products, with similar numbers of respondents planning purchases of each technology this year. Rather than purchasing an archiving app to run internally, some companies like CMG are considering alternatives such as managed services. "We are looking at Postini," says the firm's Wilson. "Postini is coming out with a business-continuity planning service."

This was first published in June 2006

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