Five Continuing Trends in Data Storage

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-07-02 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

As we do at six- or 12-month intervals here at eWEEK, we offer a short list of key continuing trends in data storage, based upon daily conversations with storage vendors, analysts, data center managers, CIOs and CTOs -- even a few former industry executives now blissfully retired and simply watching this evolution with continued amazement.

Data storage historically has been thought of as a solid, super-important but not-very-exciting sector of IT. Well, "not-very-exciting" is a value judgment made strictly in the mind of the beholder, and storage certainly is not a newsless valley in the overall IT landscape.

New products with a connection to data storage, data disaster recovery, deduplication, thin-provisioning, capacity management and a slew of others are constantly coming into the market -- from established companies and newbies alike. Storage media, including spinning disk hard drives, solid-state NAND and NOR Flash, digital tape and optical disks continue to become more capacious and reliable as engineers and manufacturers improve upon improvements.

As we do at six- or 12-month intervals here at eWEEK, we offer a short list of key continuing trends in data storage, based upon daily conversations with storage vendors, analysts, data center managers, CIOs and CTOs -- even a few former industry executives now blissfully retired and simply watching this evolution with continued amazement.

Ever-increasing capaciousness in the hardware: Capacities in new-generation hard disks, NAND and NOR Flash, digital tape and optical disks continues to skyrocket, thanks to brilliant engineering. As millions more transistors are crammed onto silicon chips at Intel, AMD, Samsung and other processor-makers, increasing storage space is being created for all the forms that hold bits and bytes. There's a physical limit, but we're not anywhere near it yet, experts say.

For example, laptops with 1TB storage drives are only months away from general availability.

Virtualization of formerly siloed storage systems: This trend started with testing and quality assurance work back in the mid-2000s but is now trending very quickly up. Many of these siloed systems -- especially in larger enterprises -- are still in transition, but industry analysts now estimate that some sort of virtualization is now being used in production in nearly 90 percent of all enterprise IT systems. Only two years ago that percentage was in the 20s.

Standardization of deduplication in Tier 2 and Tier 3 storage: Where new-generation deduplication was a new and more-or-less experimental feature three years ago and being offered by only a handful of storage providers (two of them were Avamar, now property of EMC, and RockSoft, bought by ADIC, which was in turn bought by Quantum), it is pretty much a standard requirement now.

Data deduplication, one of the most important breakthroughs in IT in the last two decades, eliminates redundant data from a disk storage device in order to lower storage space requirements, which in turn lowers data center power and cooling costs and lessens the amount of carbon dioxide produced to generate power to run the hardware.

What's not to like about dedupe? If you said or thought "nothing," you're right.

Online backup storage: Small and medium-size businesses and departments of large enterprises alike are now signing on in increasing numbers to services such as Mozy.com, Carbonite, Box.net, Amazon S3, CommVault, Asigra, iDrive, Iron Mountain Digital, Seagate EVault, and others. It took a couple of years for trust to become established -- and trust is still by far the biggest issue -- but reports of serious data loss have been relatively few and far between.

It won't be long before every laptop and netbook sold will feature a pre-install that will include online backup and virus protection. EMC is already providing this with its Atmos service for its Iomega desktop storage drives.

Secure, private cloud storage: Don't confuse this with online backup. In the last eight months, EMC, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Symantec, CA and ParaScale joined the quickly expanding market for software that enables companies to build their own private cloud computing environments. Those vendors introduced separate do-it-yourself cloud-building platforms, sparking a trend that includes such businesses as 3tera and  Citrix, in addition to lesser-known smaller companies such as Nirvanix, Bycast, and Cleversafe.
 

 
 
 
 
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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