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More Storage Doesn't Mean More Jobs

Q1 earnings are in and for the most part the news is good, and in some cases
very good. There were a few misses, but overall it looks like Q1 was a
solid quarter. More importantly, most suppliers are giving upbeat
guidance for the rest of the year and into 2011. Indications are that
users are beginning to ramp up their storage buying, but there is little
evidence to suggest that is going to come with increased head count. In
short, the "do more with less" IT staffs are going to become the "do even
more with the same" IT staff.

If you look at who did well during this economic downturn, typically two
types of organizations are represented. First, those that could live off
of providing additional product to their installed customer bases. They
may have offered you great deals, but they were able to keep product
moving. The large storage players are obviously well-represented here.

The second group are the companies that enabled the "do more with less"
mentality. I find that these companies are either focused on the "do
more" or the "with less" part of that idea. The "do more" companies
are those whose storage systems sell for almost the same as the
traditional suppliers, but the systems they provide are more intelligent
and allow more storage to be managed by the same or fewer people. In
storage systems these capabilities include storage virtualization, thin
provisioning, automated tiering and integration into the various
virtualization platforms, all of which allows more storage management to
be done with the same headcount. The "with less" companies are the companies that drove cost out of the
storage equation, possibly with some of the advanced storage management
features listed above. During the economic downturn we saw greater
adoption of storage software, or do it yourself storage, which allows you
to load storage software on your hardware. The server virtualization
movement also played a part, allowing these software companies to
deliver appliances as virtual machines.

Enabled by solutions like file virtualization, as we discuss in "What is
File Virtualization
?," disk archiving began to play an increasingly important role. Moving data
from primary storage to secondary storage as well as retrieving data
from the archive became less painful. The increased value of a storage area that
is more space efficient, dramatically less expensive and now easy to get
to is more appealing than just adding more disk to primary
storage.   Finally, acceptance of using what used to be
considered secondary storage as primary storage is on the rise. Companies that were
using these products as disk backup began to realize that there were no
more failures in those systems then in their primary systems, and these
backup systems began to move upstream.

I don't see any of these trends ending. There will be increased
pressure to add as little additional headcount as possible. In some
organizations, we may see the elimination of the storage specialist
altogether. That means that suppliers will have to continue to drive
complexity and cost out of their offerings. This has to be more than
simplifying the management GUI, and more like something where the
solution will actually guide the user through the management process and
actually increase IT productivity.