If 2006 and 2007 were when Fortune 1000 enterprises were testing storage virtualization in their data centers, 2008 and 2009 are going to be the years that all this hot new software will be deployed into daily production.
Most storage analysts believe that only about 15 to 20 percent of these large corporations are actually using storage virtualization software and services in their daily production routines now. And those that are deploying it are using it in only about 2 to 3 percent of the storage environment, analysts say.
According to a new study of released Jan. 28 by IT analysis firm TheInfoPro, an independent research network and supplier of market intelligence for the IT industry, about half of Fortune 1000 enterprises that have been testing storage virtualization will be switching it over to full production usage during the next 24 months.
"There is still a lot to go. This trend is expected to continue up in 2008 and 2009," TheInfoPro Managing Director of Storage Research Robert Stevenson told eWEEK. "The number of storage organizations that are users of block virtualization has almost doubled since 2006, to 21 percent in 2007 from 13 percent."
The market is seeing large shifts within vendor communities in response to changes in the features and capabilities that are being demanded from storage virtualization solutions, Stevenson said.
"One could argue that the big vendors have been falling behind and struggling to roll out products that meet user needs," Stevenson said. "Nonetheless, with IBM's recent acquisition of XIV, EMC's planned 2.0 release of Invista, and Hitachi Data Systems' ... USP feature improvements in 2008, end users may finally get closer to realizing their vision for storage virtualization and get ahead of the server virtualization adoption curve."
Hitachi Data Systems is the No. 1 provider of block-level virtualization, with IBM a close second, Stevenson said. "EMC is third, but 3PAR's usage has increased significantly; it is now [the] fourth-in-use provider, with thin provisioning becoming a must-have component for storage virtualization," he said.
Thin provisioning is a storage virtualization feature that allows just enough disk capacity for an application to run efficiently, saving on power and disk usage. Many servers waste storage capacity by allocating too much unneeded disk space to an application-especially in dedicated app servers.
In file-level virtualization, EMC's Rainfinity continues to be first in market share, with Network Appliance trailing. Following its acquisition of Acopia, F5 Networks moved up to being the No. 5 in-use vendor for file virtualization.
"Storage professionals leverage block and file virtualization technologies in a variety of ways, including increasing their ability to find and resolve application brownouts or slowdowns," Stevenson said. "Disk drives are getting bigger, increasing the probability of issues. Storage virtualization provides a way to manage this risk, without businesses needing to engage 'SWAT team' forensics performance investigations."
About 275 Fortune 1000 and MSE (midsize enterprise) users were interviewed for TheInfoPro's Wave 10 storage study, Stevenson said.
A rich media presentation of findings can be seen here.