27 billion gigabytes to be archived by 2010

IT executives clamor for ways to prune and centralize their mushrooming data stores.

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"Information must have high availability and remain safe from evil-doers," says Mark Boggs, IT director at Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston, W.Va. To address these concerns, the facility is continuing to build out its SAN and will soon add a peer storage architecture, which packs thin-provisioning capabilities to help accommodate huge imaging files. For its storage architecture, Thomas Memorial tapped EqualLogic, which is being acquired by Dell Inc.

Other industries are also swimming in storage-hungry data. Capitol Broadcasting Co. (CBC), a Raleigh, N.C.-based operator of five TV stations and several radio assets, is grappling with a 120% growth in e-mail volume and a wealth of media-rich graphics, audio and video files that reside on its networks.

"While e-mail archiving was the catalyst to move beyond DAS, other looming IT challenges were also driving the need for more robust storage," explains Chris Welty, a CBC systems engineer. The company is moving to IBM's BladeCenter architecture and has purchased an IP SAN from StoneFly Inc. in Hayward, Calif., in a further effort to provide single-instance storage on file servers, Welty says.

Virtual Storage Realities

Because virtualization vendors, including VMware Inc., position virtualization as a way to jump-start centralization, in 2008 the technology will become more affordable and more pervasive. Virtualization often involves moving physical data to a central site and providing pointers or maps to the application in which the data is used. "We expect virtualization technologies - including but not limited to VMware - to be hot in 2008," said Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Heidi Biggar.

However, virtualization does have its issues, especially in the early stages of adoption, says Brian Matthews, computer user service specialist at the University of Texas. "Our storage demands initially increased because of virtualization," he says. "It becomes a matter of rethinking storage when virtualization is involved. Unified storage has always been the goal, and virtualization helps dramatically in this goal, but it does so at a very fast pace."

Naturally, virtualization offers short-term benefits as well. One of those relates to the technology's role in the new push for "green," or environmentally friendly, computing strategies. "Technologies such as server virtualization reduce the power and cooling footprint of the server infrastructure," says Nik Simpson, an analyst at Burton Group in Midvale, Utah.

Overall, it will be practical, incremental moves, such as cutting power consumption and emphasizing centralization, that will emerge as the biggest storage trends in 2008. More than anything, in the new year IT executives will show fortitude in the face of storage challenges and a willingness to try out the products that vendors have been hawking for a while.

McAdams is a freelance writer in Vienna, Va. Contact her at JMTechWriter@aol.com.

Forecast 2008: IT Trends & Predictions for the New Year

How'd we do in '07?  See last year's Forecast 2007.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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