Storage managers can reach for their wallets again


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No recession for disk capacity

Seeing budgets remain at the level of an extraordinarily recessionary year or rising a point or so may be small solace to storage managers who once again are faced with the need to add more disk capacity. On average, companies expect to add 40 TB of new disk capacity, up from 34 TB last fall. Over the past couple of years we've seen the estimates for additional disk capacity drop a bit in the fall, so the actual average additions may be lower by year's end.

New disk capacity will be added to an already installed average of 61 TB, so if the anticipated growth follows through, that growth rate would be approaching 66%. Not surprisingly, larger companies plan to add more capacity (84 TB) than smaller outfits, but with 35 TB and 25 TB, respectively, medium-sized and small companies are gearing up for some hefty upgrades, too.

Continuing a trend that emerged over the last three years, more than a third of the money data storage managers plan to spend on disk hardware will go to buying disks to beef up the capacity of existing arrays rather than purchasing entirely new frames. This suggests that those managers anticipated the kind of capacity growth we've seen and "bought big" a few years back and are still topping off those larger systems.

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Click here to get a PDF of the By the Numbers information on storage budgets, additional disk capacity and solid-state implementations.

Storage virtualization to the rescue

The need for more and more disk capacity is nothing new, but it looks like storage managers are taking (or considering) some newer approaches to cope with burgeoning data stores. In this survey, for example, we see a renewed interest in storage virtualization, an effective method of squeezing efficiency out of installed arrays. Although it's hard to call storage virtualization "new," companies have been fairly cautious over the years in adopting it.

Thirty-five percent of this survey's respondents have virtualized some or all their storage, a jump of 4 points compared with last fall and a sizable spread of 8 points over last spring. The number of companies evaluating storage virtualization technology is up as well, at 24% vs. 21% in the spring of 2009. Perhaps even more telling, only 41% said they haven't virtualized any storage compared with 53% a year ago.

And those who have taken the storage virtualization plunge are doing more of it. Last spring (2009), 53% said they had virtualized some of their block storage; this year, 69% have done so. The file storage virtualization results are nearly as dramatic: 71% have virtualized some of their file systems vs. the 58% reported one year ago. It should be pointed out, however, that the number of companies that have virtualized all of their block (20%) or file (14%) storage hasn't truly increased much over the past year.

Plans to add storage virtualization technologies are also up. Last fall, 30% of those surveyed indicated they would purchase virtualization hardware or software; this year, 42% are in the market for storage virtualization gear. Among the many virtualization alternatives, most interest is focused on virtualization appliances (16% plan to purchase) and virtualization software that runs in an array (also 16%).

With "NAS sprawl" now a familiar phrase in our storage lexicon, interest in file virtualization seems to be gaining; 36% will give it a look and some consideration this year.

This was first published in May 2010

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