Feature

Storage redux: Purchase plans reviving

Ezine

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Still cautious and coping with capacity

The survey results suggest that, rather than slashing and burning their way through their storage budgets, storage managers are more likely to couple a "trim here, trim there" approach with newer technology implementations to stem costs.

Regardless of budget size, funds are allocated in the familiar proportions that we've seen over the years, with disk system expenses gobbling up the biggest chunk (39%) of the overall budget. One might expect that as disk prices have dropped significantly over that period, the percentage that disk represents would also have proportionately diminished. But the "x factor" here is the need for new capacity; so as capacity demands soar, users need to buy more disks.

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Click here to view a PDF regarding storage budgets and disk capacity.

The need for new capacity hasn't let up, although this survey's numbers suggest that storage managers might get a little needed relief through the rest of the year. On average, companies will be adding 34 TB of new disk capacity, a fairly hefty figure, but down significantly from last spring's 43 TB (although larger companies are still looking to add an average of 68 TB). It appears that data storage managers have made some adjustments to deal with capacity demands, like employing tools such as thin provisioning, compression and data deduplication to make better use of already installed capacity and perhaps forestall some new purchases. Of course, they may simply have less money to spend, causing some projects to get pushed into next year or beyond.

When storage managers do make disk purchases, they're more likely to try to fill in the capacity of their existing arrays than opt for completely new systems. Thirty-seven percent said their primary disk expenditures would be for new disks for old systems. We've seen this "build out vs. buy new" trend for the past three years; it will be interesting to see if it shifts back to new system purchases as installed gear approaches its end of life or end of lease.

For those planning to buy new storage systems, midrange products will figure into the buying plans of nearly 50% of respondents. Although Fibre Channel (FC) systems are still the top choice, iSCSI continues to make gradual inroads; 12% said they'll buy iSCSI this year, up a couple of points from last spring, while other disk system categories stayed flat or lost a little ground.

iSCSI systems are becoming fixtures in the data centers of all sizes of companies. Among our respondents, the average disk capacity that they have installed is 75 TB, and most of that is on FC SANs (62%) or network-attached storage (NAS) systems (63%). But 35% said they're using iSCSI storage now, up a few points compared with last spring's or last fall's numbers. And that number looks like it will be augmented, as 43% said they plan to or have deployed iSCSI systems this year. That's approximately 3 points higher than last fall and the highest number we've seen to date. The way iSCSI systems are being used also reflects the technology's maturity; 47% said they'll use their iSCSI systems for mission-critical apps, the highest number we've seen to date. For smaller companies, iSCSI has taken on an even greater role, with 61% using it for critical applications (also a new high).

This was first published in October 2009

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