The Enviable Problem of Abundant High Quality

eWEEK Excellence Awards judges' tough task will likely be good news for buyers

Its eXcellence Awards judging time again for eWeek Labs analysts and some of our Corporate Partners. This year is shaping up to be the most challenging ever, at least as far as picking a winner in the Enterprise Storage category is concerned.

This years Enterprise Storage entries have really impressed me, and we judges have our work cut out for us in choosing a winner. Although Im nowhere near ready to announce our decisions for this categorys award winners, I have noticed, during the winnowing process, some market distinct trends that run through this years entries.

The first major trend I noticed was the aggressive movement of vendors into the disk-to-disk backup market. Major players including Network Appliance (with its NearStore R100 System), StorageTek (with BladeStor) and Quantum (with the Quantum DX30 Enhanced Backup System) have entered disk-to-disk backup systems in our eXcellence Awards competition.

The two most innovative advantages that these backup units bring to the table are high-speed performance (compared with standard tape drive solutions) and easily accessible data—which will allow nearline storage to come back in vogue.

With storage consumption growing rapidly, and backup windows shortening as a result of e-commerce and international businesses demand for improved uptime, the disk-to-disk backup market should be an interesting place over the next few quarters.

A second area in the Enterprise Storage division that looks promising is the storage management software arena, where vendors are desperately trying to win market share over rivals while paving the way for future advances. Even vendors like McDATA and ADIC, which are renowned for hardware products, have created competitive software products to compete in this still-developing market.

As usual, the disaster recovery and backup markets were well represented by the likes of CommVault Systems, Computer Associates, Legato, NSI Software, Tivoli and Veritas.

SAN management is another hot corner, represented this year by ADIC, CA, DataCore, FalconStor and McDATA, among others.

With the unprecedented number of strong candidates we received in the Enterprise Storage category this year, the competition is keener than ever—which can be nothing but good for buyers looking to get the most out of their storage dollars.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at