Top five storage trends

What were the hot storage topics from last week's Storage Expo and SNW Europe shows? Here's what you need to know.

Future of storage

We have now left behind the political party conference season and moved into the storage conference season with IT PRO attending both Storage Expo in London and Storage Networking World (SNW) in Frankfurt.

All elements of storage were discussed, debated and demonstrated - but there were a few topics that were on everyone's lips on the show floor.

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We take a look at the top five trends in the storage industry right now and give you an explanation behind the buzz words.

Virtualisation

An unsurprising entry into the top five, virtualisation is not just a popular topic in storage but all across the data centre.

Many companies are opting for this tech, as by virtualising their machines they can consolidate their hardware, saving on both CAPEX and OPEX costs, while improving capacity.

However, the storage industry has always taken the technology with a pinch of salt. Although there was definite evidence that adoption of virtualised storage was on the rise, analysts and vendors still felt the need to show they weren't fully committed to the idea.

Rene Millman, an analyst with Gartner, told IT PRO at Storage Expo: "There are people and vendors out there that would love us to virtualise everything [but] that's never going to happen."

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Cloud Computing

Again perhaps not a surprise in the top five trends from the storage conferences, but what made this such an interesting entry was the ongoing and passionate debate both about what cloud computing actually is and whether it is it secure.

One critic made his voice heard during a keynote at SNW. Steve Duplessie, founder of analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group, attacked the cloud for its lack of security and accountability, referring to putting data into Amazon as putting it "god knows where."

At Storage Expo, Shawn Scott, head of IT technical strategy and security for Burberry, was more positive but believed companies will hold back from full embracing the cloud.

"There is always going to be a situation where you need to keep your own data," he said. "As it stands today we have to take the hybrid approach."

Regardless of the sceptics, nearly every stand at both conferences was offering solutions for cloud computing, so it is definitely a trend to keep an eye on.

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Solid state disks

We have been increasingly seeing a growth in the solid state disk (SSD) market with more companies releasing products.

During a meeting with NetApp at SNW, the company said its latest offerings in its V series included SSD to increase performance. However, David Dale, global director of industry sales, admitted price was still an issue.

"It is early days for SSD," he said. "[And] we have all watched the increased performance."

He added: "The question is at this price point where do you want to implement it? The day will come though where you will buy SSD instead of disk."

Dale was a tad vague giving a time frame for the adoption, but Jamon Bowen, director of sales engineering and customer support at Texas Memory Systems, was much happier to put his chips down.

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"My projection is that if the historical price curve stays the same it will be two-and-a-half years until [SSD] levels [with disk]," he said.

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"The change within two-and-a-half years will not be everything, but within 10 years I think we will see everything going to SSD."

Deduplication

A surprisingly debated entry into the top trends to look out for, deduplication seemed to split the industry as to whether it was the right back up technology to be used.

Less of a surprise was Data Domain's opinion. Trevor Cooper, business development consultant for the company, discussed the company's latest releases, all with built in deduplication, and was almost evangelical about its importance.

But NetApp's Dale took a dig at the company and its new owner.

"We think they [EMC] paid too much, we weren't going to pay that," said Dale. "We knew what it was worth and we weren't going to be dragged into paying more. We are glad we didn't try to match the price as economically it was not viable."

The technology clearly has its key evangilists. That said, many vendors left the technology behind choosing different methods to ensure backup, with many sticking to providing tape solutions.

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Deduplication will be another interesting technology to watch to see if it lives up to the hype.

Archiving

The final technology to keep an eye on is archiving. It dominated discussion at both conferences, with key players entering the space with new products.

BakBone made a splash with its new NetVault Archive solution. It tackled the archiving problems for large companies who tend to end up with several pools of data rather than a central location that can then become useful for company data analysis.

"Customers say they want to create a repository," said Andrew Brewerton, BakBone's technical director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). "Rather than just lifting [data] off and storing it on tape for seven years, actually what we are building up here is a business asset."

Another big player happy to put its faith into archiving was Hitachi Data Systems as both in a meeting with IT PRO and during a panel discussion at Storage Expo, its chief technology officer Huw Yoshida claimed archiving was the place to invest.

Only time will tell just how many other vendors will jump onto the archiving bandwagon following its positive reception at both of these events.

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