Although the IT industry as a whole still is on a less than solid footing (for example, IDC recently recorded a sharp drop in worldwide server shipments) networked storage looks like a continued source of growth.
For instance, an IDC study released earlier in the year indicated that the fastest growing segments in the storage services market -- comprising consulting, integration, management, and support services, through 2005, will be storage implementation and integration, "driven specifically by customer requirements for outside help in building and integrating storage area networks (SANs)." IDC also said networked storage-related services in general will become an ever larger part of the total storage services market with spending for services on direct-attached storage continuing to decline.
Then, in Milan late last month, IDC predicted that the worldwide storage market will reach a value of $71 billion by 2004 with software and services sectors accounting for $9 billion and $24 billion, respectively, representing the fastest growing areas of the storage market. At the two-day event, which attracted more than 300 attendees, IDC analysts and the principal Italian operators of this segment stressed that today storage and information management solutions represent not only a technological "must," but also, and most importantly, a competitive variable of paramount importance for all kinds of companies.
In her presentation at the conference, Zarah Damji, Senior Research Analyst, European Storage Systems, covered the different technologies available to end users and outlined where IDC sees each of them playing a role. "For the moment we see iSCSI playing a role in SMBs [small-medium-size businesses] that prefer to stick to known brands," said Damji. "This will push Fiber Channel into the higher end, where performance is more of an issue. On the other hand, Infiniband will probably remain a server-to-server interconnect, or will be used in clustering environments and direct-attached storage."
In a final IDC-related note, RBC Capital Markets, which looks at the storage networking industry from an investor's viewpoint, recapitulated earlier comments from IDC, including a prediction that 2002 market forecasts are too conservative with "strong payback and growth opportunities for Fibre Channel SANs," and low cost switches lowering average port prices. On the basis of that information RBC noted that they maintain a "positive SAN industry stance."For more information:
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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.