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When 2008 began, data deduplication and cloud computing were still emerging and solid-state drives (SSDs) were a pipedream for enterprise storage arrays. As the year ends, it's hard to find a storage vendor who's not pushing at least one of these technologies, if not all three.

The economy was also a big issue for storage in 2008, just like it was for the rest of the world. The only thing growing as fast as digital data is bad economic news in the form of bailouts, layoffs and slashed budgets.

2008 was also considered a transition year for connectivity technologies, such as 8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). Despite a flurry of activity in these areas, it's still early in the transition.

Here's a closer look at the biggest stories that shaped the storage world in 2008 and how they'll carry over to 2009.

Everybody's doing the dedupe dance

Data deduplication became a sizzling hot technology in 2008 when EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., IBM Corp. and NetApp all added dedupe backup products, and Dell Inc. said it would follow in early 2009. Dedupe also became a main purchasing priority for organizations looking to improve their backups. Dedupe pioneer Data Domain Inc. rode its dedupe appliances to profitability months after its 2007 IPO and bumped up its sales forecast in the face of a recession.

Meanwhile, NetApp and startups Storwize Inc. and Ocarina Networks showed dedupe and compression can work on some types of primary storage.

Considering major vendors are still new at dedupe, you can expect it to play a more major role in storage sales in 2009.

Frank Slootman, CEO at Data Domain, says only a small minority of companies have adopted dedupe and "there's a lot of runway in front of us.

"What inning is this? It's hard to know. There's no real scientific data that tells you where the saturation point is," notes Slootman. "I think in 2009 the big thing will be more adoption in the enterprise. Big data centers can't fool around with stuff that's immature, so they wait to implement new technology. I call it the late majority."

Dedupe is quickly spreading from backup to archive data but, outside of NetApp, the large storage vendors aren't offering dedupe for primary storage yet. "It's relatively limited for primary storage," says Jeffrey DiCorpo, HP's chief technologist for data protection and security. "One example of where it can be used is virtual machine deployments where there are a lot of redundancies. But for the most part, dedupe provides the biggest benefit for secondary applications where there [is] an enormous amount of redundancy in data."

Data deduplication becomes primary candidate

EMC, Quantum form deduplication tag team against Data Domain

IBM acquires Diligent for data deduplication, VTL

Sepaton upgrades VTLs and data deduplication

HP prepares double dose of data deduplication

FalconStor rolls out NAS interface for data deduplication

Record sales recorded for data deduplication products

Storage Decisions: Users list must-have dedupe options

SSDs appear on the enterprise storage radar

It all began in January when EMC said it would offer SSDs on its Symmetrix enterprise arrays. The move was first met with skepticism, but eventually just about every other storage vendor jumped on the bandwagon with plans to add SSDs and partner with the disk makers developing them.

But questions remain about pricing and the reliability of SSDs, although progress has been made in these areas.

"Solid state used to be 100 times more expensive than disk. Now it's only 10 times more expensive than disk with Flash," says Rich Pappas, Emulex Corp.'s vice president of business development for embedded storage. "We're starting to see it used fairly extensively on server blades for database log files and web caching. You used to have to put massive memory trays or massive amounts of memory on servers. It also lets people create different types of hybrid storage by putting SSDs on top of massive banks of SATA storage."

EMC adds solid-state drives to Symmetrix disk array

EMC to add solid-state disk to Clariion array

Interest in solid-state storage gains traction 

Intel to ship enterprise SSDs with increased reliability by year end

Storage vendors debate where SSDs go in storage infrastructure

Storage administrators wary of SSD deployment

HDS embraces SSD while users mull adoption

Storage tries to escape financial meltdown

Storage customers and vendors spent a lot of 2008 worrying about how the global economic woes would affect them, especially in the second half of the year. The concerns were about how much 2009 budgets would be trimmed, and what types of tools would remain in those reduced budgets. IT vendors slashed their workforces and resorted to other cost-cutting moves like giving staff unpaid leave late in the year; some storage companies were even left scrambling to survive.

Storage industry braces for 2009 slowdown in spending

EMC earnings point to looming storage spending slowdown

NetApp uncertain of future storage revenue growth

No solace for Quantum

Copan follows the big guys, slashes staff

Storage spending slowing already

Preparing for 8 gig, 10 gig Ethernet, and FCoE

Nearly everybody agrees these technology upgrades and consolidation plays will catch on eventually, but nobody is sure when. Upgrades to 8 Gbps FC gear aren't happening as quickly as with 4 gig switches and host bus adapters (HBAs) a few years back, mainly because customers are still happy with 4 gig and don't want to pay a stiff premium to upgrade. NAS and iSCSI vendors are eager for 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) prices to drop, but that has been a slow process for storage, too.

Brocade was the busiest here, spending $2.6 billion on Ethernet switch company Foundry Networks Inc. and rolling out a new backbone switch, 8 gig FC directors and switches, and entering the HBA market. Cisco Systems Inc. bought an FCoE startup and maintains FCoE is on the cusp of widespread adoption for network consolidation, while Brocade and others say that won't happen until 2010-2011. But like SSDs, plenty of vendors are planning support for these emerging connectivity technologies.

Director or not, Brocade Backbone surfaces 

Cisco starts to connect converged data center dots

Storage networking vendors race toward 8 Gbit Fibre Channel 

Storage Decisions: Brocade launches 8 Gbit switches, HBAs

Brocade waves caution flag for Fibre Channel over Ethernet 

Bullish Cisco predicts FCoE arrays in 2009

NetApp first to offer native FCoE SAN storage

Cisco buys Nuova, launches FCoE-compliant switch

10GigE still seeking killer app

Walking in the clouds

Online storage services have been around long enough to go through a cycle of hype, bust and rebirth. What was new in 2008 was widespread adoption of the "cloud" term, and the raft of products and services that came to light.

EMC and HP brought out well-hyped cloud storage systems, and practically every backup software vendor launched or enhanced software as a service (SaaS) offerings. Startups such as Cleversafe Inc., Nirvanix Inc. and ParaScale Inc. came out of stealth mode with cloud services or products.

"This is one of those cases where something gets a name and the perception of it rises dramatically and awareness spreads because it's been named, but it had been going on before the name came around," says Michael Callahan, chief technologist for HP's StorageWorks Enterprise NAS.

EMC launches clustered cloud-based storage system

HP previous Web 2.0 storage system

Symantec to build clustered NAS for cloud storage

Coping with cloud storage

Atempo, Nirvanix offer cloud-based file archiving 

Cleversafe dsNet helps ISPs launch DR service

Parallel NAS startup looks to beat EMC, HP to the clouds

Will recession drive businesses to the cloud? 

VMware, storage vendors dance warily

Storage vendors welcomed the role VMware played in getting IT admins used to virtualization, and in prompting organizations with virtual servers to implement networked storage. But some vendors became increasingly suspicious that VMware was moving into storage management and becoming a competitive threat.

Friction grows between storage vendors, VMware

Open source hypervisors pose problems to VMware

The politics of VMware deployment

A new wrinkle: VMware over NFS

Symantec CEO: We know more about file systems than VMware

Symantec and VMware partner for improved management integration

 

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