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Storage managers can reach for their wallets again

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The state of solid state

Solid-state storage has captured the imagination of most storage managers, and a hefty chunk of the storage budgets for those shops that have implemented this diskless storage medium. There's an awful lot to like about solid state -- it's lightning fast, runs cool and sips juice -- but it's still significantly more expensive than traditional hard disk drives.

In the fall of 2009, when we first asked about solid state use, we found that just under 8% of respondents were using solid-state storage in some form. In our most recent survey, that slice has increased to more than 10%, with another 6% planning to deploy it this year. Thirty-five percent expressed plans to evaluate solid-state storage in 2010.

Among shops currently running solid-state storage, the average installation was 6.9 TB, which is a substantial amount of solid state. Despite the high average, typical installations appear to be smaller, with 38% of those surveyed reporting less than 1 TB currently installed.

While still substantially higher than hard disks prices, the cost of solid state is dropping sharply and users seem to be increasing their purchases. For users who indicated that they would be purchasing (or have already purchased) solid-state storage in 2010, the average amount they said they'll buy is 6.1 TB. If you factor in those respondents who said they weren't in the market for any solid-state storage this year, that average drops to

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2.8 TB, which is still a hefty chunk of solid state.

The most popular place to put solid-state storage is in traditional storage arrays, hardly surprising, as just about every array vendor out there now offers a solid-state drive (SSD) option. Sixty-nine percent of solid-state users have implemented the technology in their arrays; 33% are using it as direct-attached storage (DAS) in servers.

Though solid-state storage has obvious appeal, its price still bars entry for many companies (61% said it's too expensive). For 43% of survey respondents, there's no need for solid state as they're quite satisfied with the performance of their hard disk systems.

Cloud storage isn't just an illusion

In a close race with solid state for buzzword of the year, cloud storage is taking shape as a viable alternative to building out in-house storage environments. The current survey marked the first time we asked questions specifically about using cloud storage services for things other than backup, and we were surprised at the results, especially considering all of the concerns we've been hearing from storage managers about putting their companies' data out there in the cloud.

Fourteen percent of respondents report using cloud storage now, with the most activity occurring around cloud storage for disaster recovery (6%). But 4% are using it to hold primary data from their data centers, and an equal number are using it for nearline data storage.

This was first published in May 2010

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