iSCSI SANs Drive Disk Storage Boom

Even talk of a recession cannot hold back the growth of virtualization and iSCSI SANs

March 7, 2008

3 Min Read
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Despite the gathering clouds of economic uncertainty, users are still consuming vast amounts of disk storage, boosted by growing demand for virtualization and iSCSI SANs.

The total disk storage market grew to $7.5 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, up 7.6 percent year-over-year, according to a report released this morning by analyst firm IDC.

With a massive 1,645 Pbytes of disk bought by users during the fourth quarter, IDC analyst Liz Conner says that talk of a storage spending slowdown is wide of the mark.

"I am not sure that there is an overall spending slowdown," she says. "I think people are getting smarter about what they really need -- people are getting much more savvy."

With the current boom in virtualization, for example, more and more users are investing in iSCSI SANs, which experienced 70 percent revenue growth in the fourth quarter."VMware is pretty much the killer app for iSCSI -- as VMware is growing in popularity, so is iSCSI," says Conner, alluding to the current flock of vendors looking to deploy virtualization on iSCSI technologies.

"iSCSI is growing off a small base, but it is becoming a more and more popular choice [for users] -- it is definitely growing fastest out of all the storage technologies," adds the analyst. "Because iSCSI is based on Ethernet technology, it's very easy for small-sized businesses to install, versus Fibre Channel SANs, which are much more expensive to deploy."

Other analysts have also identified this trend. "Given the hardware acquisition cost benefits, as well as synergies in network staff and infrastructure, significant benefits can be gained from the use of iSCSI-based SAN architectures," wrote Forrester analyst Andrew Reichman in a recent research note. "iSCSI deserves serious consideration in storage strategies."

Despite the upward trajectory of iSCSI, the technology is nonetheless still firmly in the shadow of Fibre Channel SANs, according to IDC's Conner.

At the moment, iSCSI SANs only account for 5 percent of the market, although sales of the technology have grown over 77 percent year-over-year."Fibre Channel SANs probably account for 54 percent of the market," says Conner, adding that direct-attached storage and NAS account, respectively, for 20 percent and 15 percent, with the remainder made up technologies such as ESCON and FICON.

At least one user told Byte and Switch that both virtualization and iSCSI SANs are on his roadmap, which could help harness rapid data growth.

"We're dealing with about 12 million active records at any given time," says Michael Schreiber, executive vice president of enterprise services at charity United Way America. "The growth of the data volumes to be stored is out-pacing the decrease in the cost of storage."

The latest storage figures certainly seem to suggest that this is the case. Revenues for external disk storage, for example, grew 9.8 percent year-over-year to $5.3 billion, according to IDC.

EMC continues to lead the external disk storage market with 22.5 percent market share, followed by IBM and HP with 17.7 percent and 12.3 percent share respectively. Dell, Hitachi, and NetApp rounded out the top five vendors with, respectively, 8.4 percent, 7.5 percent, and 7.5 percent of revenue.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Forrester Research Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • IDC

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • VMware Inc.

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