Like just about everything else these days, the storage market has been rocked by the crashing economy. Tough financial times combined with emerging technologies and evolving business practices are leading to big changes, creating new priorities while remodeling or ending many everyday practices.
1. More features for less money. With less money to spend, most storage shoppers are searching for products that can deliver the biggest bang for their buck. Facing slumping sales, many vendors are now adding extra capacity and offering features — such as faster performance and interface support — that may have cost extra during more prosperous times. When better days return customers will find such bargains elusive. Right now is an excellent time to get great deals on storage products.
2. Saving energy becomes a virtue. Rising energy costs and business green initiatives are pushing more storage buyers to pay close attention to device power ratings. A growing number of businesses are also beginning to consider energy-saving technologies, such as storage virtualization and, on both the device and system levels, the use of power management tools.
3. Flash-based SSD gains traction. Solid-state drive (SSD) vendors such as Intel and Samsung are expanding their market scope from media players and digital cameras into the enterprise. SSDs use up to 40 percent less energy than equivalent hard drives, so as prices fall and device lifetimes lengthen the technology reaches deeper into the business mainstream.
4. Rising storage demand. The increasing use of email and rich media applications is requiring businesses to buy more storage at a time when many can least afford it. On the bright side, SATA drives, deduplication and virtualization all promise to help businesses get the most capacity for their money.
5. Clustered storage moves into the real world. The concept of using large numbers of commodity boxes featuring four to eight drives is far more financially appealing than running a storage controller managing dozens or hundreds of drives. Clustered storage adopters also stand to benefit from fast performance and high availability.
6. Storage virtualization picks up momentum. Squeezing every bit of storage capacity from every single drive makes sense. Storage virtualization — the pooling of multiple physical storage resources into what appears to be a single storage resource — is really the only way of achieving this goal.
7. Old systems gain second lives. In flusher times, buyers routinely junked old storage systems. Many businesses are now re-thinking this practice, opting to use older devices to augment their new storage purchases or keeping the units in reserve for use as emergency backups.
8. Increased emphasis on information lifecycle management. To better cope with skyrocketing storage costs, more businesses are adopting information lifecycle management (ILM), an approach to storage administration that includes polices for backing up, protecting, replicating and sharing data, as well as other key routine and special tasks. ILM helps businesses use storage more productively and efficiently.
9. Thin provisioning becomes increasingly attractive. If ever there was a storage technology designed with a recession in mind, thin provisioning is it. The technique reduces both initial storage acquisition cost and total cost of ownership by allowing businesses to defer additional storage purchases to a later date. With thin provisioning, adopters configure large logical volumes using a minimum amount of physical capacity, paying for and installing storage only when it's needed. By reducing allocated but unused storage, users can eliminate "stranded storage" and lower the total amount of disk storage required over the life of the system. Several storage vendors now offer this option.
10. High costs hurt high-bandwidth options. While many businesses would like to take advantage of high-bandwidth storage networking technologies like 10Gbps InfiniBand, 10Gbps iSCSI and 8Gbps Fibre Channel, high hardware costs, shrinking IT budgets and confusion over competing standards will continue to limit the appeal of these solutions.
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