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It's refreshing to know that IT executives have their priorities straight. They still recognize the need for innovation in storage. Yet they're not about to chase after just anything with a blank check, even if it looks like the recession is receding.
But storage networking is chaotic these days. The original version, the Fibre Channel-based storage area network, lacks the right amount of management. Companies that have gone that route to manage their data have kept these networks homogeneous, based on single platforms. They've ended up with islands of SANs instead of one unified SAN.
Last year, news came from vendors of the iSCSI standard--still not complete--that would let blocks of data run across the ubiquitous IP network. That didn't stop major vendors such as Cisco Systems from announcing an IP-based switch that could help their customers connect their SAN islands. Unfortunately, few users have the necessary high-performance gigabit networking technology in place across their infrastructure to make it work. And 100Base-T doesn't cut it for storage performance. Intel's Infiniband PCI replacement server architecture is said to be the next great storage architecture. But it's not even making noise among servers yet.
IT executives could turn their storage management over to a storage service provider. There is some demand for them, but it usually doesn't mean taking over complete management of the data from companies.
More than half of the 19 storage outsourcers interviewed by Gartner for its Storage Services And SSPs: The Insider's View report agree that storage service providers should help manage and monitor storage assets that remain inside customer walls. Thirty-one percent of respondents aren't so optimistic, reporting that the management and monitoring of client-owned data won't be their company's largest market opportunity.
But storage service providers are expected to experience an increase in demand for their services. The growing amount of data being collected, pressure for its successful management, and an ongoing need for cost control will continue to drive businesses to outside storage providers.
How is your company approaching the management of its data stores? Let us know at the address below.
Martin J. Garvey
Responses are mixed about how much demand there is for remote primary server storage capacity. A third of the 19 storage service providers interviewed by Gartner say there's little need for such services, while almost half say there are opportunities in that area. One in five vendors don't feel strongly either way.
How is the storage market shaping up according to storage outsourcers? Seventy-nine percent of vendors polled say financial-services companies will require the most storage assistance overall. Health care is the other big market. But that's understandable because it's an industry trailing in storage adoption. Government and manufacturing are tied for the least amount of need. Yet manufacturing needs might change as they attempt to harness data stores to more effectively manage inventory crucial to profitable operations.