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Storage Trends Emerge as Fall Shows Get Underway

NEW YORK -- While the UN General Assembly met downtown, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy addressed The Economic Club of New York in another room, and Chaka Khan and Ricki Lake led a rally in Bryant Park, users and vendors quietly convened at the Hilton this week to share news and views on the storage market.

It was easy to slip into the background amid the more high-profile goings on in the city, and many suppliers seem to be waiting for the larger SNW venue in Dallas in October to unveil new wares, but attendees at the Storage Decisions conference nonetheless were ready to share the latest trends and gossip. Here's some of the buzz that surfaced this week:

  • Everyone's getting smarter about green IT -- really. While it's easy to be skeptical of hype about energy-efficient data centers, there's apparently enormous effort going into making them happen. "People are getting over the greenwash stage," says analyst Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group. They're just starting to explore ways of streamlining power, cooling, and floor space for what he calls intelligent storage management. Thing is, any really solid energy plan will be multifaceted, involving a number of steps taken to reduce consumption. There isn't a silver bullet. "If thin provisioning is just divvying up utilization, it's just masking the problem," Schulz says.

    Other options for saving power include MAID as well as the HDS method unveiled this week for coordinating disk spinning in arrays. Also in play is any technology that facilitates equipment consolidation, such as de-duplication and virtualization.

  • Security is joining the SAN. It's no news that storage managers are preoccupied with security. But many are looking at solutions that blend into the SAN fabric itself, instead of using detached boxes a la NeoScale or NetApp's Decru. "More people are securing storage, particularly in regulated industries like financial and government," says Greg Farris, director of marketing at CipherMax, the company that emerged from MaXXan earlier this year.

    Farris is biased, since CipherMax competes against NeoScale and Decru on the basis of size. He says organizations that don't want to stack up multiple appliances can map the SAN and then add security policies to it with CipherMax's technology, which emerged from MaXXan's work on a large storage switch. The vendor's software provides tape and disk encryption and advanced key management, and it performs key rotation, an increasingly popular form of protecting data by issuing a new encryption key for overwritten tapes.

    But fabric storage appears to be more than a CipherMax pitch. Emulex this week unveiled authentication features for its HBAs, which will bring security into 4-Gbit/s and "forthcoming" 8-Gbit/s HBAs. Stay tuned.

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