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The State of Data Storage Management: 2011 vs. 2012

  • More, more, more. For years, data storage management meant dealing with requests for more space because of more data used by more applications. Storage admins responded by focusing on centralization and consolidation, as the InformationWeek Report "2011 State of Storage" found. That's changed, however.

    According to "State of Storage 2012," demand is stabilizing. The January survey of 313 IT professionals found that almost the same amount of storage is under active management as in November 2010. The data growth rate is slowing, as well--76% of respondents reported rates of just 24% or less. Here's a look at what else has changed and what's stayed the same in data storage management, from 2011 to 2012.

    Storage Technology Use

    After seeing drops in usage from 2009 to 2010, both replication and encryption surged in 2011--replication was listed as being in use at 67% of the 313 organizations surveyed, compared with 57% at 377 organizations in November 2010. Encryption, which was in use by 47% of respondents in 2010, was used by 55% of organizations in 2011.

    In last year's report, author Kurt Marko theorized that the maturity of technologies like disk replication made them less intriguing than newer products targeting storage efficiency and virtualized workloads. "State of Storage 2012," however, showed an increase in interest in data protection and availability technologies, perhaps a sign that the attention once devoted to consolidating and centralizing storage is now being turned to ensuring that the data is secure.

  • Since 2009, replication has ruled the list of storage technologies and features considered when making purchasing decisions; in 2012 it increased slightly to 52% of respondents citing it as "very" important. Encryption jumped as a priority, from 33% in 2010 to 42% in 2012. Neither increase is surprising, given the increase in the use of both technologies in organizations.

    Snapshots and disk-to-disk-to-tape backup both dropped 5% from 2010 to 2012, while deduplication tumbled 7%. "This is likely an indication that IT now considers these relatively mature and undifferentiated technologies that are--or should be--standard features of any enterprise-class storage system," wrote Marko in "State of Storage 2012."

  • The concerns of data storage management professionals stayed pretty much the same from November 2010 to January 2012--data loss and data security, and insufficient storage resources, budgets, disaster recovery plans and management all topped the list again. The strengthened focus on data protection can be seen in the rise in respondents listing data loss and security as important--from 40% in 2010 to 49% in 2011.

    "As our survey shows, storage pros understand that data loss isn't an issue only when using outside services," wrote Marko in "State of Storage 2012." "It's now the leading storage concern in general."

  • HP and EMC still hold the top spots for current or planned vendors for Tier 1 or Tier 2 storage, with just slight dips for both--HP dropped from 64% in the 2010 survey to 62%; EMC from 59% to 55%. The real story was IBM, which vaulted from being listed by 47% of respondents in 2010 to 54% in January. IBM also finished behind just EMC in storage virtualization leadership and backup and archiving, nudging out HP in the latter category.

    IBM's growth in backup and archiving contrasts with a decline in the category for EMC, from 60% to 52%. EMC also saw a loss in the deduplication category--while it's still the leading vendor, the gap between it and other companies is narrowing. Why? According to "State of Storage 2012," it's a sign that buyers are paying less attention to data reduction and optimization, perhaps assuming that such features are standard in new storage systems.

  • Has storage virtualization reached its saturation point? Thirty-eight percent of companies report that they're using it, a 4% increase from 2010. However, fewer are planning new projects (8% in 2012, vs. 12% in 2010); 30% say they're looking into it, just 1% more than 2010. EMC, IBM, HP and NetApp remained the leading vendors in the field.

    File virtualization deployment plans held steady, as well, for the most part--13% of respondents already use the technology, and 33% are considering it, a match to 2010.

  • While interest in storage virtualization has dipped, cloud storage services are finding more takers. Twenty-five percent of respondents plan to implement cloud storage by 2013; and while 43% say they aren't using it, that's an 8% decline from 2010.

    "Cloud storage is mature, reliable and particularly well suited for data backup, archival and disaster recovery scenarios, and security doesn't need to be a deal breaker," wrote Marko in "State of Storage 2012." Email and archiving remain popular uses for cloud storage.

  • In 2010, 22% of respondents used solid-state drives (SSDs) for enterprise storage, with 15% planning to increase the usage. In 2012, 166 of the 311 respondents reported using or evaluating SSDs, with most planning to use them for general databases (61%) or to improve overall server performance (57%). Sixteen percent consider SSDs on disk array an important storage technology; 62% cited it as "somewhat" or "very" important when making purchasing decisions.

  • So what's next? "2012 is shaping up as a good year to address storage problems that have been allowed to languish," according to Marko in "State of Storage 2012."

    And that's just what storage admins appear to be focusing on--while 2011 was full of plans to improve allocation (51%), implement disaster recovery plans (41%) and monitor utilization (39%), 2012 seems to be about assessing and refining usage. Allocation still leads the list of projects, but admins also want to reclaim unused storage (42%) and improve capacity planning (37%).