Efficiency Tops Storage Goals

Opinion: IT managers will look to cool and consolidate in 2007.

When it comes to storage, enterprises can never have enough. But with ballooning energy costs and data center space constraints, too much of a good thing can be bad. In 2007, the need for greater efficiency will drive enterprises toward improving power consumption and cooling management, more storage consolidation and deduplication.

A number of storage providers, including EMC and Hewlett-Packard, have recently announced initiatives to help enterprises stay on top of airflow, cooling and power delivery in the data center. Predicting future needs with this kind of ground-up approach forestalls potential hot spots and outages before they occur. While merely turning up the air conditioning may yield bigger bills without appreciable benefits, getting air where its needed and throttling it back where it isnt can keep costs under control without sacrificing reliability.

Another way to rein in inefficiency and complexity is through consolidation. SAN (storage area network) consolidation, for example, can simplify management and reduce maintenance expenses. Enterprises also should explore virtualization options in their pursuit of maximizing capacity utilization.

/zimages/6/28571.gifEMC aims to cut the costs of cooling data centers. Click here to read more.

Deduplication is another way to get more with less. Also referred to as capacity optimization, commonality factoring and single-instance storage, deduplication gets the job done by eliminating redundancy. With deduplication, files are broken down into smaller segments and stored in a database. When the files are changed, only the unique modified portions need to be stored on the backup system. As a result, the amount of space required to store the deduplicated data can diminish by a factor of 20 or more. Bandwidth utilization over WANs also shrinks significantly, streamlining backup, replication and recovery at the edge.

In October, in the latest of a string of acquisitions during 2006, EMC filled a gap in its data protection and recovery package by scooping up deduplication provider Avamar Technologies. Avamars deduplicating happens at the source—on laptops, desktops and servers—before data is written to storage. In contrast, Data Domains solution performs deduplication on the array itself. Data Domains recent partnership with VMware will enhance support for Data Domains backup solutions within the virtual machine framework.

Whether deduplication will have a displacing effect on traditional tape backup remains to be seen. IT managers will have to weigh the option of more affordable and timely WAN replication against the inherent risks of shipping tapes from site to site.

Along with these trends, I expect storage security and iSCSI to be top of mind in 2007.

The year 2005 was rife with headlines decrying IT security breaches. With no shortage of disappearing laptops and compromised personal data, 2006 didnt fare much better. And so it goes that encryption should be a prime concern for IT managers in 2007, whether its for tape being shipped off-site, disk-based backup appliances, or laptops and external hard drives accompanying mobile workers outside an organizations secured premises.

In 2007, eWEEK Labs will continue to fan the flames of iSCSI—a steadily burning torch for the past four years. Earlier this year, Microsoft added support for iSCSI in Windows Storage Server 2003, and the release of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is expected to drive growth for iSCSI in 2007 and beyond. Finally, while the increasing popularity of 10 Gigabit Ethernet will help pave the way for more advanced iSCSI implementations, it remains to be seen how significant an impact the technology will have in terms of displacing Fibre Channel in the data center.

In fact, IDC predicts iSCSI revenues will hit $5.1 billion in 2010. This year alone, third-quarter year-over-year revenue growth reached 108.4 percent.

Technical Analyst Victor Loh can be reached at victor_loh@ziffdavis.com.

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