SD '04: That's a wrap

With another successful Storage Decisions conference behind us, here's a summary of the technologies and trends that had attendees buzzing.

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For two and a half days earlier this week at the Hilton hotel in the Windy City, storage vendors pushed their latest products, storage users looked on attentively and/or skeptically and storage analysts dazzled all with the latest and greatest theories and enterprise strategies. And of course, we can't leave out the liquid libations at the evening events.

Despite some nighttime revelry, this year's Fall Storage Decisions conference couldn't have been more focused and purpose-driven. The conference offered nearly 600 storage professionals the opportunity to swap ideas and gain insight from industry experts -- and they took full advantage.

Here's a rundown from the show on the technologies users were talking about and the upcoming products that will hopefully fill some of their needs.

Users get priorities straight

Based on feedback from users at the conference, the top three priorities these days are tiered storage, disaster recovery and reducing the number of vendors in shops.

Click here to read what users have to say on these topics.

The breakout sessions covered such topics as backup software, virtualization, storage management tools and switches and drew large crowds armed with questions.

One session on intelligence in the fabric made clear that most users have already made up their minds about where storage virtualization should reside: in the network. Check out the thinking behind these decisions here.

At a panel of users talking about which vendors and technologies are solving nagging backup problems, the consensus was that backup windows are still not being met and it's time to get a virtual tape library (VTL).

Emerging vendors such as FalconStor, CommVault and Bakbone Software received high marks at the panel, whereas some on the panel expressed frustration over products from backup giant Veritas Software Corp.

At another panel, four users discussing storage management tools had a common purpose: Get their heterogeneous environments under one pane of glass. Much like the backup software panel, users here chose smaller vendors such as Creekpath, AppIQ and Softek to manage their storage. "They want software independence and will go with younger companies if it will keep them from being tied to a storage vendor," said Nancy Hurley, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and moderator of the panel.

Microsoft, Cisco and others unveil new products

Software giant Microsoft kicked off the conference on Monday by announcing its plans for a new disk-based backup server called Data Protection Server (DPS), slated for general availability mid-2005.

Then, over the next 24 hours, a dozen or so vendors took the wraps of new products for e-mail consolidation, FCIP channel extension, improved SRM tools, retention software for unstructured data and disk-to-disk backup and archiving. Here are the highlights on these announcements. Product news from day one and product news from day two.

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