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The time is right for efficient storage

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"We're starting to do some archiving with our email system," said Downing. "Right now we're in the beginning phases of implementing that." The farm property insurance firm uses Symantec Corp.'s Enterprise Vault and expects to expand its scope. "The next step is to go to our file stores and start doing that," he said.

Data still needs to be protected

Data protection is one storage management area that can't be derailed because of belt tightening, and it looks like storage managers may have to resort to robbing Peter to pay Paul to ensure their data is appropriately safeguarded. Peter, in this case, is tape. Spending plans for tape libraries, drives and media have been dwindling, as indicated in the last few surveys. A few years ago, 47% of respondents planned to increase tape spending while another 34% expected to maintain previous spending levels. Today, only 19% will increase their spending (vs. 32% last fall), while 29% will decrease it. Half the group anticipates spending at 2008 levels, which were already relatively low.

Sixty percent won't buy any tape libraries in 2009, which is the highest number we've ever seen. And those who are making library purchases will opt for smaller units with an average of 101 slots; last fall, the average number of slots was 117 and in spring 2006 it was 159. Clearly, less reliance on tape is anticipated, but higher-capacity tape drives like LTO-4 also contribute to the downsizing of tape library purchases (see

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"LTO-4 adoption on the rise"). Still, 80% spin off some or all data to tape, which is down somewhat from 86% one year ago.

But declining tape usage is an old storage story as the focus has shifted to finding more efficient uses of disk in backup environments. And any discussion of efficiency in backup has to start with data deduplication. Dedupe is arguably the hottest technology in storage these days, but that doesn't make it immune from reduced spending. Still, dedupe's numbers are up, with 19% already deploying it vs. 14% in spring 2008. New deployments might slow a bit in 2009, as 10% will decrease their dedupe spending. While not a huge portion of respondents, it's a considerably larger segment than the 1% reported last spring. But 55% will either increase dedupe spending or maintain it at 2008 levels; that's about 12 points lower than both of last year's surveys.

A dedupe project is underway at Hail and Rain, according to the firm's Downing. "We're in the middle of the research for that and hope to have something chosen by the third or fourth quarter of this year," he said.

Horace Mann's Janssen has spoken with a number of vendors about their dedupe products. "We will probably be considering that, but at this point, we aren't doing anything along the lines of deduplication," he said. Meanwhile, he's begun evaluating dedupe product alternatives. "But next year, I would say [it's] 90% certain we'll be doing something with data deduplication," he said.

This was first published in May 2009

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