Stretching computer budgets remains high priority with storage administrators at Storage Decisions C

Storage administrators at Storage Decisions Chicago conference focus on virtualization and other ways of delaying major equipment purchases to stretch budgets in faltering economy.

CHICAGO -- Surviving the economic downturn is at the top of storage administrators' priorities lists at the first Storage Decisions conference of 2009.

With that in mind, Focus Consulting president and chief analyst Barbara Goldworm's opening day keynote on "How virtualization can make IT the good guys" laid out the ways virtualization is expanding from servers to the data storage world with the potential to save money on computer equipment, power, cooling and space.

Goldworm's keynote echoed conference attendees' talk that information technology projects are being pushed back unless they can show immediate savings. It's no secret that IT departments are focusing on consolidation, optimization and automation to reduce expenses and overhead.

An informal survey taken at the keynote showed that approximately 40% of Storage Decisions Chicago attendees had IT projects held back due to a lack of funding, while another 30% had to provide additional financial justification for approval.

"If it's not a mission-critical or business-critical project, it's getting pushed to the back burner," Goldworm said.

In addition, virtualization can stall computer equipment purchases by optimizing servers and storage already in house, she said. "Early virtualization adopters are also now moving past their initial virtualization deployments to storage, desktop and application environments," she said. "Organizations are asking how they can use virtualization technologies to change the way they do business."

Organizations are asking how they can use virtualization technologies to change the way they do business.

Barb Goldworm
Chief analystFocus Consulting

Goldworm said regulatory and financial compliance storage requirements, disaster recovery (DR) projects, cloud computing or other offsite data storage, and the need to retain high-resolution media files are driving increased storage demands.

She pointed to disaster recovery as the most prevalent driver of virtualization implementations in the mid market. When a virtual machine (VM) is created to run an application, another VM is automatically created to simultaneously run the same application. If the first virtual machine fails, the system automatically switches to the second VM. Then another fail-over virtual machine is created to run the application so there's always a real-time backup available to users.

IT administrators want to take advantage of advanced data service technologies such as data deduplication and thin provisioning, but must come up with ways of establishing those initiatives without additional resources. While the sessions on deduplication, solid-state disks and other "hot" technologies were well attended at Storage Decisions Chicago, informal user polls found that few organizations are using them in production as they try to stretch their budgets by making their current environments more productive.

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