The five biggest storage trends

Coupling disk with de-duplication makes the cost per gigabyte of your backup more palatable

The explosive growth of data has made information storage management more critical than ever within the enterprise. But data growth aside, major issues and trends in storage technology are injecting added complexity to that storage strategy. Industry experts identified some of the factors influencing enterprise storage decisions.

Virtualization

Virtualization is "the big story right now" as it pushes a transformation in organizations' storage infrastructure, where direct-attached storage is gradually giving way to network-attached storage (NAS) and storage area networks (SAN), said Philip Barnes, a storage analyst at Toronto-based research firm IDC Canada. Adopting network storage, said Barnes, means organizations can take advantage of the mobility features of virtualization, and the increased resiliency given the disk is no longer associated with a single physical machine.

10 Gigabit Ethernet vs. Fibre Channel

While Fibre Channel has been the undisputed standard of choice as an interconnect in the data center, the arrival of 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks threatens to challenge that, according to John Sloan, an analyst at London, Ontario-based Info-Tech Research Group. While Fibre Channel vendors can still argue that it's a faster medium for data center storage, Sloan said "that differentiation will become a race" as Ethernet gains in the capacity it didn't offer before and becomes increasingly affordable. And although organizations will start migrating to Ethernet, Fibre Channel will still have a significant footprint in the data center given prior investments in the technology. "It's not like they're going to be throwing out the Fibre Channel overnight. It's not going to be a revolutionary change."

Chris Gahagan, senior vice president of resource management software at EMC Corp., said that there will still be a place for Fibre Channel in the data center. For instance Fibre Channel over Ethernet is "a way to preserve the integrity of the Fibre Channel network but running over an Ethernet backbone."

Gahagan acknowledged that there is an increasing number of use cases for technologies like iSCSI and NAS, and "obviously EMC plays in all of the connectivity spaces," he added.

More likely, he said, is Fibre Channel will become a protocol converging with other protocols running over IP networks, as has occurred with data, voice and video over IP.

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