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Consolidation, Scale-Out Architectures And Virtualization Drive 2012 Storage Trends

Enterprise storage infrastructure still contains quite a bit of direct-attached storage (DAS), but SMEs are in the process of making the move to consolidated storage, a shift that has already taken place at the Fortune 500 level. Even as storage consolidation catches on in the enterprise, though, there is a trend towards building scale-out storage architectures.

According to Kurt Marko, a regular contributor to InformationWeek and Network Computing, as well as the author of the InformationWeek Research: State of Storage 2012 report, storage consolidation has shifted down from large enterprises into the SMEs, which are now deploying the technology. At the same time, SMEs are adopting scale-out architectures that essentially use individual storage bricks combined with firmware and management software to create single storage pools.

"We're still seeing that move to shared storage, NAS and SAN. Across all verticals, you're seeing consolidation in RAIDs driven by a number of things," says Marko.

With shared storage, Fibre Channel is finding itself being displaced by other storage technologies, he said. At one time, Fibre Channel SAN was the only option for Fibre Channel-based storage, but now NAS is becoming more common for file-based applications. Additionally, iSCSI and Fibre-over-Ethernet are both being adopted by SMEs, which Marko says was a surprising discovery from the survey's findings because of the fits and starts, as well as interoperability issues related to the technologies. However, usage is picking up among SMEs.

One of the common trends not just in storage, but in IT overall, is vendor consolidation. Marko notes it has been a trend in storage for some time, as the smaller players in the market start to have some success with their solutions and then get gobbled up by the bigger guys.

"It's not just in storage, but you see this across IT, a lot of the innovation is happening at small start-ups that are taking a gamble on the next big idea," he says. "Like anything, some of those work and some of those don't work out." When the market gloms onto the new technologies, the bigger players take the easiest route into the market, by purchasing the smaller players and integrating them into their own offerings. That's nothing new to the IT world, though.

One of the biggest trends driving consolidation is virtualization, Marko says. Server virtualization is the de facto deployment method of applications for shared storage, and that's driving shared storage pools, he states.

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