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Hot data storage technologies for SMBs: Storage trends for 2010

Read about the top SMB data storage technologies and storage trends that are predicted to have the biggest impact on SMBs this year.

Data storage, data backup and recovery, and disaster recovery (DR) in the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) market saw many changes in 2009. Data deduplication made its way into SMB data storage environments, many SMBs adopted cloud backup technology as part of their data backup plans, and many vendors altered their products to fit the specific needs of an SMB. But what's going to change in 2010? This tip predicts the top SMB data storage technologies and storage trends that will have the biggest impact on SMBs this year.

Cloud-based storage use will increase among SMBs.

SMBs are the targets for many of the Web-based applications coming online from Google, Microsoft and others. The more that SMBs utilize those services, the more cloud storage they will consume as a result.

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Cloud-based data backup and disaster recovery (DR) will be fastest-growing SMB data backup alternatives.

Cloud-based backup, data recovery, and DR has become more efficient with built-in block-level incremental, data deduplication, compression and encryption. Cloud-based backup and recovery also offers high-performance local recoveries via appliances, recoveries at the file, volume, and application layer, database and email brick-level recoveries plus disaster recovery (natural or human based) capabilities. And all of this is usually available in bundled packages from cloud-based data backup and recovery vendors. On top of that, their top-notch service and cost-effective pricing makes cloud-based backup an attractive alternative for SMBs.

Cloud-based data archiving tools will be stiff competition for SMB users.

Historically, SMBs have rarely implemented onsite or offsite data archives. Cloud-based data archiving is for compliance and permanent archive. However, as e-discovery becomes more prevalent at the SMB level, and regulatory compliance starting to rear its head down the business food chain, archiving has moved up on many SMBs' to-do lists.

Data deduplication will be bigger in SMB data backup software than specialized appliances or storage.

Data deduplication has primarily been talked about as a target storage or appliance with most SMBs. Lost in the discussion is the fact that deduplication has quietly slipped into most (25 vendors at last count) of the data backup and recovery applications the target appliance/storage was aimed at. Furthermore, few software vendors charge for it. It's also included in the majority of cloud-based backup and recovery services as well. So why should SMBs pay a premium for a service they can get "good enough" for free?

Primary storage data reduction will increase in importance.

Most data reduction technology is aimed at secondary data backup storage where it has the most impact and where performance is not an issue. Dedupe will add noticeable latency to most reads. Although primary storage is more expensive than secondary storage, it is growing almost as rapidly as secondary storage because of duplicate virtual server and workstation images, video files and audio files. New data reduction products aimed at SMBs, such as Storwize Inc. transparent compression appliances, Neuxpower Solutions for Microsoft Office files and Ocarina Networks will all help address primary storage reduction problems.

Server virtualization will rapidly increase in SMB data storage environments.

The increased application availability, easier application, server and infrastructure management, better DR, easier workstation management, and lower overall costs make server virtualization too attractive to pass up for any organization. It doesn't matter whether it's Citrix Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., Oracle, Red Hat Inc., or VMware, it's compelling. In relation to data storage, server virtualization typically increases the amount of storage. And for the best results, server virtualization requires network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area network (SAN) storage.

Unified data storage will exceed NAS, SAN, or DAS sales.

The concept of NAS or SAN went away several years ago. Unified storage, NAS and SAN in the same system with one management console is a given, but it took SMBs a while to catch on to this concept. Most unified data storage systems are incredibly easy to implement, operate and manage, and costs for these systems are dropping rapidly. Even big vendors like EMC Corp. and NetApp have exceptional SMB offerings. Also, most SMBs have both file and block storage. Unified storage consolidates storage and admin tasks, and increases data storage availability in the same manner that server virtualization does for servers.

The cost of easy-to-use data storage will decline.

Premium pricing for easy-to-implement, operate, and manage storage is rapidly disappearing. Three years ago, only a handful of startup vendors made "brain-dead" simple storage. Today, it's table stakes. SMBs can acquire 16 TB of this type of SAN storage for less than $6,000.

10 Gigabit Ethernet for data storage will become more common.

The prediction that 10 Gigabit Ethernet will become more common in data storage is based on several reasons. First, 10G Ethernet is about to start showing up on server motherboards, meaning commodity-type prices will also show up. Second, 10G Ethernet switch pricing has been rapidly declining, so a slew of 10G Ethernet switches have been entering the market. Third, NAS file storage and iSCSI SANs are growing far more rapidly than the analysts predicted, according to Gartner/Dataquest. And lastly, the market is on the cusp of starting to adopt FCoE. All of this adds up to 10G Ethernet breaking out in 2010.

Overall, the data backup and recovery world can expect to see significant changes regarding SMB data storage environments in 2010. Data storage technologies are always changing and molding to address specific needs, whether those changes are related to cloud-based data backup, data deduplication, server virtualization, or perhaps something we can't even predict yet.

About the author: Marc Staimer is the founder, senior analyst, and CDS of Dragon Slayer Consulting in Beaverton, OR. The consulting practice of 11-plus years has focused in the areas of strategic planning, product development, and market development. With more than 28 years of marketing, sales and business experience in infrastructure, storage, server, software, and virtualization, he's considered one of the industry's leading experts. Marc can be reached at

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