Storage Gains Ground in the Network

It might not be the flashiest category at this week's NetWorld+Interop 2003, but don't underestimate data archiving and recovery, writes Storage Supersite Editor David Morgenstern: It will more than hold its own at the show-and in years to come.

IT professionals attending this weeks NetWorld+Interop 2003 show in Las Vegas will find myriad species of infrastructure, security and wireless-connectivity products. Harder to spot, however, will be products to feed the markets 800-pound gorilla: the growing need for data archiving and recovery.

Thats not to say there wont be plenty of storage at the show. Key3Media set up a track to highlight storage area networking and network-attached storage at the conference, and several vendors have already announced forthcoming announcements. In addition, EMC Corp. President and CEO Joseph Tucci will fill one of the keynote slots.

However, for most N+I attendees, the big concern will be security. We can see that priority in the results of eWEEKs latest online poll, which asked "Whats the most critical aspect of networking in the 21st Century?"

Heres the polls breakdown as of this writing:

Security 53.53%Manageability 22.35%Bandwidth 14.12%Voice/data integration 7.65%Support 2.35%

Of course, the wording of the question is a bit hyperbolic: Who would think that these answers can apply to the entire 21st Century? Were just at the cusp of the new millennium, after all.

Would the results hold if we were to consider the concerns of IT over the next five to 10 years? Perhaps not. No doubt, security will continue to reside at or near the top of IT priority lists for a long time. However, I suspect that (if it were included among the choices), storage as well as bandwidth would also be high on that long-term list.

While budgets have shrunk over the past couple of years, IT pros have faced increased demands for data-archiving solutions. Some of the need comes from data-intensive applications in the enterprise such as CRM as well as recently enacted federal mandates for financial institutions. Likewise, the long-term archive of medical records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act will also drive sales of archive and disaster-recovery software, hardware and services.

In a recent discussion, Princeton SoftechPresident and CEO Lisa Cash mentioned that the companys own calculations tracked other analyst predictions that the archive software market will grow to $4 billion. The companys Active Archive product line has experienced 100 percent annual growth since its introduction in 1999. The company recently added support for EMCs Centera and Hewlett-Packard Co.s HP-UX platforms.

With that growth of archive requirements comes an equal need to move the data "assets" efficiently on- and off-site. According to an International Data Corp. study, Internet traffic will grow from the current daily level of 180 petabits to 5,175 petabits by the end of 2007. Thats the equivalent of moving the entire written text in the Library of Congress 64 thousand times a day, the story said. Along with the enterprise use, this growth will also be spurred by an increase in high-bandwidth connections by consumers.

Yet that trend may come up against the slowing growth of Internet bandwidth, results of the tech-market slump and the bandwidth glut created during the dotcom bubble. According to analysts, Internet capacity is still growing, but more slowly than before; it could catch up with demand sometime in the near(-ish) future.

However, one thing will stay the same: the 2 percent vote for support as a priority issue for network managers. (They know best, as always.)

David Morgenstern is a longtime reporter of the storage industry as well as a veteran of the dotcom boom in the storage-rich fields of professional content creation and digital video.