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Midrange Makes Its Move

The midrange SAN market is rapidly growing in popularity, functionality, and complexity, according to the latest Byte and Switch Insider, this publication's paid subscription research service (see B&S Insider Scopes Midrange SANs).

The report, Midrange SAN Systems: A Morphing Market, identifies the midrange as the fastest growing storage segment, due largely to a fundamental shift in architecture that moves it out of the shadow of the high-end market. The growth is driven by several factors:

  • Prices for disk drives and Fibre Channel HBAs and switches have dropped precipitously.
  • Data management features that started on high-end systems -- such as migration, replication, snapshots, point-in-time copy, and virtualization -- are increasingly finding their way into the midrange.
  • New technologies have made features available in the midrange as soon as, or earlier than, they appear on the high end. These include FC/SATA intermix that puts high-performance and low-cost disk in the same system, and virtualized Fibre Channel ports (see Mixed Drives in the Mix).
  • Regulatory compliance and a boom in email and other corporate data force organizations to place greater emphasize on storing data on disk (see IDC: Compliance Market to Pass $20B).

Of course, the new options and capabilities make buying and managing midrange SANs more complex than ever before, the report says. The advantages bring tradeoffs for buyers. For instance, SATA drives are cheaper but less reliable than Fibre Channel drives. And the virtualization process aimed at simplifying storage management will likely complicate matters until the market matures.

There are also more vendors to choose from. Established SAN players EMC, HP, IBM, and Sun are joined by Fibre Channel and iSCSI startups as well as traditional NAS vendors moving into SANs.

Pubic companies in the report include:

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