Merrill Lynch Sizes Up Network Storage

Cost of hardware alone will save the industry up to $8 billion versus direct-attached systems, Merrill Lynch says

June 21, 2001

2 Min Read
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The economic case for networked storage is just too darn compelling,” according to Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.chief storage analyst, Thomas Kraemer.

At a conference in New York, Tuesday, Kraemer gave his forecast for the storage market over the next 12 months and came up with some interesting observations.

"The strong economic rationale for networked storage is obvious when the dollar cost per terabyte is added up for direct-attached storage [DAS] systems versus NAS and SAN solutions... The network solution is half the cost,” he said.

Economies of scale are achieved, he claims, as labor costs are significantly reduced in a networked storage setting.

Kraemer estimates the cost of hardware alone for networked models will save the industry up to $8 billion versus direct-attached systems.Driving the market towards a networked storage model are networked applications, such as email. These account for 24 percent of the demand for storage today but within three years will represent half, he says. “Newer networked applications like rich media, streaming media, and cross-enterprise applications all require a network infrastructure, and additional applications will be created for this."

He predicts the software for replication, mirroring, and backup needed to run externally networked applications will generate up to ten times the amount of original data -- in turn, increasing the demand for more storage.

The downturn in the economy will have an impact on this market over the next two years, Kraemer feels, with pricing pressures, delayed decision-making, and less spending affecting the sector just as is the case with the rest of the IT market -- so no big surprises there.

Within the storage sector itself, “SAN adoption will be affected more than any another because of the high up-front costs associated with it.” But this should only last while companies continue to support direct attached systems as they migrate over to SANs.

Expecting the buildout of SANs -- constructing, managing, outsourcing, and distributing storage as a service -- to be a lucrative endeavor, Kraemer is clearly in favor of the emerging SSP model.He sees a “gentle shift in computing towards storage networking.” First, server-area networks will gain traction, followed by data centers and, eventually, giant “networked-data centers” covering wide geographic areas: “SANs will be absolutely necessary to run these."

The determination of which vendors will be in demand comes down to software leadership, being able to offer multiple different functions for solution providers, he concluded. “We consistently heard that ease of management is an issue, so look for innovation here.”

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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