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Seven network storage predictions for 2007

It's time to once again stick my neck out and make predictions on what you very likely can expect from the network storage industry in 2007. Before I do that, let's see how well I prognosticated last year? I made a lot of predictions in six industry segments.

Fibre Channel

  • Fibre Channel (FC) SAN switches and directors will all be offered at 4 Gbps in 2006.
  • All new PCIe and PCI-X 2.0 servers with FC will be shipping with 4 Gbps HBAs in 2006.
  • Expect switch/director pricing per port to decline in the second half of 2006 as iSCSI market growth starts to accelerate.
  • HBA port pricing will also continue to decline; however, at a much slower rate than switches/directors. System vendors have very high margins on HBAs that they really don't want to lose.
  • 10 Gbps FC will be available on most of the directors and some switches. It will primarily be used as switch/director trunking. Both copper (CX4) and optical transceivers/cables will be available.
  • Based on QLogic, Emulex, Brocade and Cisco results, my predictions were right on target for the FC segment. Grade: A


  • 10 Gbps copper Ethernet iSCSI will appear on storage targets in 2006 as high density (more servers per storage array) shared modular storage.
  • Copper connections will be available in CX4 (15 meters), Cat5 (5 meters), Cat6e (55 to 100 meters) and Cat7 (100 meters).
  • The iSCSI SAN will become acceptable for Enterprise and SME accounts in 2006 and begin to erode the FC market. The primary reason being the very high aggregation points of 10 Gbps copper Ethernet iSCSI.
  • Most servers will continue to utilize 1 Gbps Ethernet and "freeware" iSCSI drivers. Hardware TOEs will primarily be utilized on storage targets.
  • I was pretty darn close with the iSCSI segment. 10 Gbit iSCSI is out and available with copper (as well as low-cost optical). ISCSI SANs did pick up momentum albeit, not as much as I expected. Still, pretty close: Grade A-


  • 2006 will see pervasive implementations of "global name space" (file storage virtualization) and clustered file servers. These technologies have too much user benefit to be ignored.
  • Network attached storage (NAS) performance in some implementations will rival block, especially with databases.
  • Many enterprise users tired of block storage and SAN complexity will embrace NAS simplicity.
  • Looking at the results from NetApp, EMC, BlueArc, Isilon, ONStor, Exanet and others makes it look like I hit another home run. Grade A+

    Data protection

  • Continuous data protection (CDP) will become a "table stakes" feature of most replication and backup software. Actual usefulness of the CDP technology will vary by vendor implementation.
  • Backup to disk will gain a lot more traction.
  • Encryption of backup data or replicated data (whether on disk or tape) will become much more prevalent.
  • Okay, I missed a bit on CDP becoming table stakes. It has become an important piece of the data protection market, just not table stakes. The rest came true. Grade B-

    Network optimization

  • WAN optimization for data center replication (DRO) will become a standard option in 2006.
  • Distributed WAN optimization will become more application specific.
  • Since WAFS is driven by server upgrade or consolidation events, it stands to reason that it will see significant growth in late 2006 and especially 2007, because of Microsoft's release of Vista in the second half of 2006.
  • Had another miss with DRO becoming a standard data center replication feature in 2006. And since Microsoft just released Vista (I had a little too much faith in Microsoft delivering on its earlier '06 schedule) WAFS did not grow as much as I suggested. Grade D

    SAN block storage virtualization

  • No longer a stepchild of block storage with major offerings available from all of the Tier-1 storage vendors and many Tier-2s, 2006 should see significant implementations and growth of this technology. This very useful block storage simplification technology should achieve mainstream status in 2006.
  • Didn't happen quite that way. EMC's Invista is still not truly generally available and won't be for some time. IBM's SVC had a good year and Incipient finally released its NSP. StoreAge continued to get traction (and got bought by LSI in the process). And looks like Cloverleaf started to make some significant sales and inroads. However, in spite of all this, block storage virtualization is not quite mainstream yet. Grade C

    Overall grade: B

    Frankly, I did not go too far out on a limb with my predictions last year. This year I will. Here are my prognostications for 2007:

    1. FRCP (Federal Rules for Civil Procedures) will have the attention of legal counsel and the IT department in many companies and especially public ones. Expect FRCP to increase significantly the adoption rate of unstructured data classification from vendors, such as Abrevity, EMC, Kazeon (as well as NetApp's OEM version), Scentric and StoredIQ. Also, expect sales of email archival systems as well as CAS (Assureon from Nexsan, CAStor from Caring, and Centera from EMC) increase as a result of FRCP.
    2. Unified storage systems (combined file and block storage target systems) will become increasingly attractive in 2007 (BlueArc, NetApp, and Pillar Data), because of their ease of use and simplicity.
    3. Distributed ROBO backup to disk (Asigra, CommVault EMC/Avamar, eVault, Iron Mountain, Signiant, Symantec) will emerge as the fastest growing data protection solution in 2007.
    4. 2007 will be remembered as the year iSCSI SAN took off because of the much reduced pricing for 10 Gbit iSCSI and the continued deployment of 10 Gbit iSCSI targets.
    5. CDP will emerge as an important feature on comprehensive data protection data protection products (Asigra, Commvault, EMC/Kashya, Iron Mountain/Live Vault, Symantec) instead of a separate managed product).
    6. The VTL market growth will continue at a much reduced rate as backup products provide equivalent features directly to disk. Deduplication will extend the VTL market temporarily in 2007.
    7. And finally, really going out on limb here, optical storage that looks, feels and acts like NAS (Plasmon and PowerFile) and puts archive data online, will make dramatic inroads in 2007. With Blu-ray deploying in 2007, price per terabyte will rival tape without the hassles of tape or having to ever rewrite the data or worrying about media defects.

    I hope you all have a happy and prosperous New Year!

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