The numbers from IDC, Gartner/Dataquest, Enterprise Strategy Group and other researchers have confirmed it every quarter for the last three-and-a-half years: The $30 billion data storage hardware, software and services markets keep growing in double-digit fashion, with no level-off in sight.
Efficient data storage is, of course, vital to the success—dare we say, survival—of enterprise business as we know it. New court e-discovery rules and commercial regulations are key drivers in forcing enterprises to re-examine their storage and data accessibility capacities, or else incur substantial risk in the case of litigation.
Looking ahead to 2007, analysts tell eWEEK the following trends are apparent:
Enterprise features are trickling down to SMB availability. Functionality such as centralized data center automation and virtualization that werent available at price points affordable enough for small and midsize businesses a year ago are trickling down in the form of smaller packages for the midmarket. IBM, Hewlett-Packard, EMC, Network Appliance, Sun Microsystems, Quantum, CA and others are in the middle of this trend.
"Just about all the major manufacturers are going after the SMB market by pricing these new storage subsystems very aggressively, and adding more functionality into smaller packages that mid-tier businesses can better afford," said Dianne McAdam of The Clipper Group in Wellesley, Mass.
Deduplication and single-instance storage. Sparked by EMCs October acquisition of market leader Avamar, other companies are now looking into buying this functionality. Deduplication eliminates redundant data—down to sections of individual files—throughout a storage network and enables the system to run faster and more cost-effectively.
"Deduplication, or single-instance storage, as some companies call it, is so important to the overall health and operation of a storage system," said Ray Villeneuve, CEO and president of storage capacity planning software provider MonoSphere in Redwood City, Calif.
"Companies are finding out they can save a lot of money on the bottom line with a cleaner running, more efficient storage system."
Increasing use of virtualization in both systems and for files themselves. If it simplifies and centralizes control—and virtualization does this in spades—system administrators will jump for it. Gartner, Enterprise Strategy Group and IDC all point to virtualization as the biggest continuing trend in storage.
NAND Flash memory continues to evolve to higher capacity and become more prevalent in larger devices, such as laptop and desktop computers.
Flash is also moving into automobiles, aircraft and a number of other products, according to longtime Flash market analysts Jay Kramer, Alan Niebel, and others at the first Flash Memory Summit in San Jose, Calif., last summer.
Storage hardware—both in spinning disk and tape storage—continues to add more capacity and yet drop in cost. This trend has been in place for about four years, according to IDC and Gartner/Dataquest, and doesnt appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
What else are people talking about in data storage and protection? Pain points, such as dealing with remote offices, security and authentication in correlation with storage, federal auditing and e-discovery regulations, and continuous data protection are on the long list of other topics.
Others, such as fabric-based intelligence, tape versus spinning disk storage, and how to do ILM (information lifecycle management) correctly are also on everybodys agenda.