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Better storage tech could trim energy, cooling costs, IDC says

The economic downturn changed attitudes toward data storage products

October 25, 2010 04:58 PM ET

Computerworld - The migration to smaller drives and the use of solid-state drives (SSD) are among several key technologies that will lead to much lower data center power and cooling costs over the next several years, IDC said in a report today.

According to IDC, more efficient storage technologies should allow power and cooling costs in data centers to level off by 2014.

"There is no doubt that the economic straits of 2008 and 2009 modified the attitudes and behaviors of IT managers and system [manufacturers], greatly accelerating interest in and the adoption of more cost-efficient storage strategies," said David Reinsel, group vice president for Storage Systems at IDC.

Reinsel said the power and cooling plateau is not likely a sustainable trend, and that ever-growing capacity requirements will result in "renewed growth in energy costs."

But for now, the migration to smaller 2.5-in hard disk drives (replacing 3.5-in drives), the continued adoption of SSDs and the uptake in technologies that make more efficient use of existing capacity, such as data deduplication, compression and thin provisioning, will reduce overall energy costs, IDC said.

"Interest in data deduplication and thin provisioning has gone through the roof over the last couple years - anything to help stave off capital expenditures on more storage," Reinsel said. "Customers can be hesitant to adopt these technologies in mainstream applications not having long-term experience on implementation and management strategies. However, data deduplication for secondary storage/applications has been much more popular," Reinsel said.

According to IDC's report, enterprise data storage systems remained a key area of investment for CIOs and IT managers throughout the economic downturn, driven by continuous pressure to store more data. External storage system shipments increased 38% from 2008 to 2009. At the same time, hard disk drive shipments for external storage systems increased 10%.

At the same time IT managers were buying more storage, interest in storage efficiency technologies grew because IT budgets turned flat or declined, IDC said. While technologies such as data deduplication and thin provisioning are most effective when first deployed, migrating to components that consume less power, and generate less heat, offers important energy savings over the long term.

Key among lower-power consuming technologies has been serial ATA (SATA) drives, which typically spin at 5,400rpm or 7,200rpm, but have twice the data storage capacity as their high-performance counterparts. SATA drives have been growing in popularity in tiered data storage architectures, where mission-critical data is stored on SSDs, Fibre Channel drives or serial-attached SCSI (SAS) drives -- and less critical data is then migrated to SATA for near-line storage.

Today SATA represents 40% to 45% of the hard disk drives shipped into external storage systems, and it should cross over into the majority of drives shipped in 2012, according to Reinsel. SSDs on the other hand, represent less than a percent, and they are expected stay in single digits throughout IDC's forecast horizon.



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