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Storage managers tackle compliance and disaster recovery

Meeting the compliance, DR challenges
If raw capacity growth is no longer the order of the day, neither is the simple scaling of SANs. The related pressures of more reliable business continuity architectures

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and greater data retention requirements from government are clearly rising to the top of the agenda at many shops.

The response to new compliance requirements is mixed. (See Figure 6) While only a small fraction of respondents had no plan, nearly a quarter didn't know what their plan was. The remaining two-thirds of respondents were fairly evenly split in their approach. More than a quarter said they had a comprehensive plan to meet most needs, but nearly as many cited either a phased rollout or an ad hoc approach by application.

As to how companies are meeting the challenge, 45% cited increased spending on backup or archive systems to comply with data retention requirements. Only 1% cited a decrease in spending on such systems, one of the lowest "decrease" ratings in the survey. Yet 16% cited no purchase plans--either they've already bought the stuff (unlikely) or they are among the 12% who have no plans for compliance.

The main platform storage managers picked for compliance was tape archiving (58%), with conventional disk backup/archive taking second place at 30%. Least favored was disk-based write once, read many (WORM) technology (À la EMC Centera) at 9%. (See Figure 7)

Prior surveys had revealed a distinct flavor of "getting the house in order" when it comes to data protection. A heavy reliance on tape and a desire to back up more users and applications suggested that overwhelmed storage departments were taking the first, obvious steps of making what they have work better before embarking on new technology projects.

This survey continued along those lines, but filled out the picture of how storage managers are tackling this daunting collection of challenges. Large tape libraries continue to be the preferred platform. More than half of respondents will buy at least one tape library in 2004. And 38% of those purchases will have more than 100 slots in their libraries.

As for the format war, it continues. The combination of DLT/SDLT has as big a share with respondents as LTO did. On the other hand, LTO clearly outpaced SDLT, which has now been on the market long enough to establish itself. While there were clear niches for formats like 9840 and AIT, none were anywhere close to the popularity of the two linear tape formats.

When it comes to DR specifically, 61% of respondents are increasing their spending on products or services in the coming year. Off-site tape storage has been passed by remote copy/replication as the frontrunner for primary purchase, 43% to 40%. (See Figure 8) Both will see more spending: 46% said they would increase spending on off-site storage of backup tapes and 47% said they would boost spending on remote mirroring.

While the survey clearly shows that tape is not dead, it does suggest that it may be catching a cold. For the first time, disk-based backup showed up as the primary alternative for those who were decreasing their use of tape, with 69% of that group citing disk as their primary strategy.

This was first published in October 2003

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