Mid-Summer 2010 Storage Trends

Usually everyone waits until the end of the year to talk about trends in the storage industry but being fully in the throes of the dog days of summer here in Omaha, I thought I would use this week’s weekly recap blog entry to reflect on some of the trends that are taking place in 2010. In doing so, I looked back to a blog entry that I wrote in January 2010 where I forecast six subtle storage trends for 2010 to see how right (or wrong) I was on my predictions. Turns out I was more right than I anticipated but I have encountered some trends that I did not expect.

To recap the 6 major trends that I forecast for 2010 back in January were:

  • Emergence of disk-based backup 2.0
  • Continuous data protection (CDP) will start to compete with more traditional backup and recovery approaches
  • Thin provisioning will continue to get the nod over deduplication on high end primary storage systems
  • Archiving in all of its forms will gather momentum in 2010
  • Cloud storage will be the most talked about non-adopted trend of 2010
  • Organizations are finally getting serious about data management

To these, I would now like to add two more:

  • A rebound in DAS
  • Rapid growth in virtual server backup software

So how have I done year to date on my original predictions?

Based upon what I am seeing, it seems like I am hitting 5 of the 6 right on the mark.

Disk-based backup 2.0 has been a killer business this year and nowhere is this more evident than with EMC Data Domain. The storage industry is abuzz with how well Data Domain has done ever since EMC acquired them – probably even better than EMC expected – and it goes to testify just what a powerhouse EMC is in the storage industry. Say what you will about EMC, many companies still don’t make a move on their storage decision until their EMC account rep first puts his blessing on it and now with Data Domain a viable option in every storage deal that EMC has out there, Data Domain is blowing the doors off of many of EMC’s deals.

This is not to say that Data Domain has not done its part in helping to make this happen. As I mentioned in my January blog entry, high availability and replication were going to be instrumental features in delivering on disk-based backup 2.0.

In that vein, Data Domain earlier this year introduced its Global Deduplication Array to address this enterprise concern plus it has also introduced its DD Boost which is putting it head-to-head with the likes of CommVault Simpana and Symantec NetBackup which will serve to shortly give the EMC NetWorker software and sales a real boost as well.

I thought I was going out on a limb in saying that CDP was going to take off in 2010 but of all of my predictions, I am now getting the sense that 2010 may setup CDP to be THE technology craze of 2011. Managed service providers are eating this technology up because backups AND RECOVERIES just work so they can focus on delivering whatever recovery point and recovery time objectives that their clients want. Further, I see CDP as being a key enabling technology to moving data in (and out) of the cloud as well as facilitating near-instantaneous recoveries into public storage clouds.

While I am seeing some uptick in adoption in cloud storage in 2010 (maybe more so than I anticipated when I predicted it would be the most talked about non-adopted trend in 2010), I partly attribute this to the accelerating adoption rate of CDP.

Because CDP makes it so much easier to get data in and out of the cloud, I now see the adoption of cloud storage moving forward more quickly than I first anticipated. However many organizations still have reservations about the security and accessibility of their data when placed in the cloud as well as the viability of the providers that are storing the data so this will continue to throttle its adoption near term.

Thin provisioing is now a feature found almost universally on all storage arrays – certainly on all high end array and on most midrange arrays. Meanwhile the adoption of deduplication on primary storage continues to languish. While there has certainly been some progress in this area most notably Dell’s recent announcement that it was going to acquire Ocarina Networks, I so far see only two other storage vendors other than NetApp being serious about making deduplication a reality in 2010. One is WhipTail Technologies which already is doing so with the introduction of the Exar Hifn BitWackr card on its system and the other is Compellent which indicated at its Spring 2010 C-Drive conference that it plans to introduce deduplication sometime this year.

My comments about how archiving will gain momentum in 2010 seems to be holding true. While I struggle to point to anything specific in support of this statement, it is more anecdotal evidence at this point that suggests that this is occurring. Hopefully I can point to more specific facts by the end of the year.

My final prediction that organizations would get serious about data management continues to be reflected in conversations that I have with end-users. As their issues around backup get resolved, it is freeing their time to turn their attention to better managing their data.

Further, as I blogged in another entry a few weeks ago, the disparity between the “have’s” (those who are doing data management) and the “have not’s” (those who are not doing data management) is growing with those organizations that can better manage their data seeing a decided uptick in employee efficiency and productivity which is resulted in real savings.

So what two trends did I miss?

One that I did not anticipate was the number of organizations that are reverting back and/or staying with using direct attached storage (DAS). Is it less efficient than networked storage? Yes. Is it harder to deliver capacity where you need when you need it? No doubt.

So why is it sticking around and possibly even gaining momentum? As near as I can tell, it is a fraction of the cost of networked storage so organizations are living with its inefficiency and management difficulties for the simple reason that it is cheap.

Case in point, I purchased a new 500 GB internal hard drive for my PC just a month ago for $52.99. So with economy remaining tight and administrators having more time than money on their hands, they are cobbling together servers and cheap hard drives like this one to provide needed storage for their applications. Is this the “best” way to do it from a management and optimal use perspective? I would say no. But when faced with a choice between having an optimal storage setup or losing their job, many are opting to keep their job and get by with less than an optimal storage setup in anticipation of fixing the situation when the economy improves.

The final trend I missed out on was the rapid growth of backup software specifically designed for virtual servers. Companies like PHD Virtual, Vizioncore and Veeam continue to tear it up despite all of the experts saying that backup software is “mature” or “an area of flat or no growth”. I have a feeling these companies would strongly disagre
e with that assessment.

I am even getting feedback that their rapid growth even has the major enterprise backup players worried because they are getting footholds in one of the most rapidly expanding areas within enterprises and have relationships with the emerging power center within companies – the virtual server admins. Frankly I would not be surprised to see some of these emerging players acquired in the coming years by the traditional enterprise backup players as a means to protect their turf.

You can also look to learn more about who these companies are and who the leading players are in this space in a few months when DCIG and SMB Research publish their first Virtual Server Backup Software Buyer’s Guide in the fall 2010 which will cover over 20 vendors and their products.

That’s it for this week! Have a great weekend and check back with DCIG again next week for the latest happenings in the storage space.

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