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Storage outlook '09: SSDs, networking and the economy

A government agency CIO will have his hands full given trends in storage and the economy next year.

Brandon Jackson is the chief information officer (CIO) for Gaston County, N.C. He says he'll focus on networking and solid-state drive (SSD) technologies in 2009, and be looking over his shoulder at how the wider economy is faring because it's directly tied to government revenue and storage product prices. First, a look back at 2008. Which technology was most useful to you this year?

Jackson: Storage and server virtualization were the most useful technologies that we were new to [us] in 2008. We have successfully virtualized over 50% of our server environment, reducing our storage and server infrastructure cost by nearly 25% per year. Power consumption costs dropped by nearly 20%. What storage market story did you follow with the most interest this year?

Jackson: Solid-state drive technology has probably been of most interest to us. We're monitoring lifespan, costs and applications. Which do you think was the most overrated technology in 2008 and why?

Jackson: It's not a specific technology, but I believe the area of data deduplication at the storage layer is overrated. Data is application specific. The most efficient level for deduplication to take place is at the application layer. Just as applications have had to become more "security conscious," they need to become more conscious of storage requirements. What technology was most overlooked?

Jackson: WAN acceleration. Decentralization of work and data centers places a greater burden on the infrastructure in between. I'm surprised that there's not more emphasis on more efficiently getting data from A to B, especially when distance is involved. I'm surprised that multispectrum fiber-optic solutions aren't becoming more mainstream more quickly. What effect will the global economic climate have on your storage planning for 2009?

Jackson: It will have some impact. As a local government, we're expected to continue our services in public safety, health, etc., regardless of economic conditions. In fact, demand for our services typically goes up during economic downturns. Our revenue comes from two primary sources: property [tax] and sales tax. Declining property values will affect property tax revenue. Consumers holding back on spending affect sales tax revenue. What's your most important storage project for 2009?

Jackson: Redesigning how we do our backups. We're moving from a server level to Compellent Replay level. What technology will be most useful for accomplishing your 2009 goals?

Jackson: We're focused this year on our network infrastructure. We're preparing for two applications: Voice over IP [VoIP] and desktop virtualization. [They will] impact our storage requirements as well, but more from a capacity standpoint than an architecture [standpoint]. The architecture is established. What would you like to see happen in the storage market in 2009?

Jackson: I would like to see solid-state reliability increase and prices drop. I'm anxious for solid state to become the de facto standard for storage, and the hard drive to go the way of the floppy. What do you hope doesn't happen in storage in 2009?

Jackson: Regardless of what the economy does, everyone will need more room to store data. If prices stay reasonable, the market will be in good shape for both the customer and the vendor. If procurement drops off, prices may increase, creating a vicious circle. I truly hope that doesn't happen.

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