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Storage Outlook '08: Storage vendors' New Year's resolutions

What can you expect in the next 12 months in the storage arena? A look at the goals that leading storage vendors Symantec, HP, EMC, VMware and Brocade have set in 2008.

Taneja Group founder Arun Taneja summed up the storage industry at December's Storage Decisions conference in San Francisco this way: "We're in such a vibrant market right now," he said. "I have never seen so much change and innovation happening all at once, ever."

With the kind of upheavals that Web 2.0 data centers and new technologies such as data reduction have caused in the market, storage vendors have laid out some tall orders for themselves in 2008. Here is a look at some of the plans that major storage vendors have for the upcoming year.

Storage Outlook '08
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5. VMware, storage partners resolve to improve storage management.

When we sat down with VMware senior product manager Jon Bock in November to discuss server virtualization and storage trends, he said that the company's top priority in the next year for storage will be simplifying storage management. The Storage VMotion feature included in VMware's Infrastructure 3.5 will also benefit from better integration with storage system partners, Bock said.

VMware's partners are also working feverishly to cash in on the server virtualization boom. Perhaps the most important products come from HBA vendors Emulex and QLogic. Both announced virtual HBAs in 2007 to provide virtualized connectivity between VMware hosts and Fibre Channel (FC) SANs.

See also: VMware takes on data migration
VMware storage headaches continue to plague users
Data storage products take center stage at VMworld

4. Hewlett-Packard resolves to pick its battles

HP has identified five hot storage trends for 2008—iSCSI SANs, storage virtualization, data deduplication, storage security and "green" IT. But the company is only going to invest in three of them, according to HP StorageWorks director of marketing Patrick Eitenbichler.

Eitenbichler said that iSCSI and storage virtualization are overrated in HP's eyes. He claims that HP wizards make its midrange Fibre Channel EVAs as easy to set up as iSCSI SANs. Native multiprotocol connectivity for the EVA is on the docket, he said, but not much else is planned for iSCSI.

As for storage virtualization, he said that "customers are only looking for virtualization to migrate data between heterogeneous systems. Virtualization is not the way to describe that—we prefer to call it heterogeneous data mobility." Instead of developing a virtual appliance, HP will pursue heterogeneous data mobility with software tools developed from its acquisition of SRM player AppIQ and data center automation company Opsware.

Furhermore, according to Eitenbichler, HP sees 2008 as the "year of dedupe." HP will qualify the data deduplication offering from its VTL partner Sepaton with its VLS6000 and 9000 products, and will release a new grid architecture for the 9000 to improve performance. "The focus we have at the high end is scalability and performance—at the low end we will focus on compatibility and data reduction ratios," he said.

For storage security, HP will push its new key management appliance. The company also has sweeping plans across its product lines for improved energy efficiency—ranging from spin-down on disks to new airflow and fan speeds in its disk arrays.

See also: Talk turns to future for data storage at HP Technology Forum

3. Symantec resolves to push forward with SaaS, integration

In April, Symantec Corp. and EMC Corp. said they planned to enter the software as a service (SaaS) market in data protection and disaster recovery. So far, neither company has made a full-fledged offering generally available, although EMC at least acquired an online backup company that puts it in the game. In October, Symantec said that its backup and recovery SaaS is in beta, and expects general availability "in the next couple of months." Several analysts have suggested that large storage vendors are finding that converting their software into SaaS is easier said than done.

In June, Symantec rolled out a boatload of new features with NetBackup 6.5, but has yet to integrate the continuous data protection (CDP) technology it acquired from Revivio in late 2006. In 2008, you can look for Symantec to add CDP to NetBackup. The next step related to CDP will be integration with Storage Foundation 6.0 as well as Veritas Volume Manager. The company will also likely add a Linux installation utility and native dynamic multipathing (DMP) to Storage Foundation in 2008.

See also: SunGard brings SaaS to email
Symantec tips hand on CDP roadmap

2. Brocade resolves to battle it out with Cisco

In the four quarters that followed Brocade's announcement of acquiring McData in August 2006, market research by the Dell'Oro Group revealed Cisco winning market share from Brocade in the FC switch space. However, Dell'Oro's 2007 third quarter report showed Brocade regaining a slight edge. Dell'Oro founder Tam Dell'Oro said that users seem more comfortable with the merged Brocade-McData since a new director is in beta tests, on schedule with the company's roadmap. The director is supposed to be generally available in the second half of 2008.

To continue its stand against Cisco, Brocade will have to keep hitting the roadmap targets it set in Sepember at its Analyst Day. Brocade is looking to add fabric-based services to its products, including data migration, encryption, CDP, replication and Quality of Service (QoS). In the first half of 2008, the company plans to release an Intelligent Server Adapter, which will be its foray into fabric intelligence. Another corproate goal for Brocade is to generate 60% to 80% of its revenue from products no older than 18 months, which means further acquisitions.

See also: Brocade bounces back in Fibre Channel switch market
Brocade regroups for virtualization battle with Cisco

1. EMC Corp. plans overhaul

In November, EMC held an un-EMC-like event called EMC Innovation Day at Boston's Museum of Science. At At that event, EMC revealed much of its 2008 product roadmap plans. Throwing around terms like "Web 2.0," "social networking" and "mashups," EMC executives discussed developments planned for 2008 that will overhaul the company's storage product lines, including a departmental storage box for SMBs, consumer storage and a high-capacity clustered system. New software, including monitoring and modeling tools, collaborative interfaces for Documentum, and a file system called ViewFS are also planned for '08.

EMC has also begun a heavy consolidation of engineering around existing disk array products, with Celera, Clariion and Symmetrix developers opening code to one another. More consolidation is planned down the road. At a user event in September, EMC previewed a Universal Backup and Archive Appliance (expected in 2009) that will combine Legato Networker, DiskXtender, EmailXtender, Centera, Backup Advisor and Avamar data deduplication.

See also: EMC tips hand on data storage product roadmaps
EMC reveals universal backup and archive plans

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