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Survey Susses Storage Spending

Storage spending is increasing, with ATA drives, Fibre Channel SANs, and tape backup poised to grow, according to a survey taken by investment banking firm Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. early this year.

The firm's third "Storage and IT Study" was conducted by Baird analysts via telephone interviews of 69 CIOs, CTOs, and IT managers from 81 midsized to large companies. Besides the results just mentioned, it also showed that storage gear from
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is starting to catch on, while startups and iSCSI still have major hurdles to overcome. And while tape use is expected to grow, users remain dissatisfied with the backup process.

Here's a closer look at the survey results:

  • Spending: More than 40 percent of Baird's survey respondents said they expect their 2004 budget to be flat to higher” than in 2003, though 54 percent do not expect headcount to rise in 2004. Most (55 percent) said storage has grown as a percentage of IT budgets from three to five years ago, and 32 percent said storage stayed the same. In last year's survey, most respondents anticipated spending would be flat to down.
  • Cisco: Most respondents (53 percent) report they’re not interested in Cisco storage products, but that’s down from 64 percent who said they weren't interested in December of 2002, when Cisco was just getting started in storage (see Users Cautious on Cisco). Of the 47 percent who are interested, 8 percent of respondents are using Cisco storage now, 3 percent plan to do so, and 36 percent are interested but have no plans yet. Those not interested in Cisco frequently mentioned high pricing as a reason.

    The survey results seem to agree with sales figures that indicate Cisco is beginning to win acceptance while remaining behind rivals Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA). (See Report: Cisco SANs Grew 18% and The Cisco Guessing Game.)

  • iSCSI: The survey found only 4 percent of respondents use iSCSI, matching the same percentage who've never heard of it. Another 7 percent said they plan to use it this year, and 38 percent say they will evaluate it eventually (see ISCSI Shakin' Goin' On). Fourteen percent said they will not use it, and 33 percent had no opinion. In the previous year's Baird survey, nearly one-quarter of respondents had never heard of iSCSI.
  • Fibre Channel SANs: Regardless of iSCSI’s prospects, respondents expect substantial growth in Fibre Channel SANs. Collectively, 42 percent of respondents' servers are attached to FC SANs today, while respondents project that figure will be 61 percent by 2006.
  • ATA: A full 80 percent of respondents said they're interested in using ATA drives; 27 percent are using them now, 20 percent are evaluating them, and 33 percent said they were interested but not yet evaluating. Most ATA users said they are using ATA for backup, but 30 percent said they were using cheaper ATA disks for primary storage -- good news for EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL), which last week announced the first Serial ATA (SATA) SAN systems aimed at primary storage (see EMC, Dell Get Small With SATA).

    While more than half (57 percent) of Baird’s respondents said they didn’t care if the product was based on serial SATA or older parallel ATA (PATA), 43 percent said they were waiting for SATA. They don’t have to wait long, as we’ve seen from a flurry of recent announcements (see SATA Saturates SANs).

  • Startups: While 49 percent of respondents said they would buy from a startup, more than two-thirds dismissed buying mission-critical applications from one. A full 29 percent said they would not buy from a startup under any circumstances. Technology and financial viability were the main factors cited by respondents in determining whether to buy from a startup.
  • Tape: Citing Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) and compliance initiatives, 48 percent of survey respondents said they would spend more on tape this year, and 26 percent said they would spend the same amount as in 2003.
  • Backup: More than 50 percent cited concerns about backup times, and another 28 percent reported concerns about recovery (see Backup Still a Pain in the Neck). Users remain loyal to their backup software, though, as 42 percent say they would not change even if given free software by another vender. Reasons for staying with their current product include concerns over service and support and a wish to avoid the time and expense of learning a new product.
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