The Lean Storage Machine

Technologies for saving space, money and energy.

Data stores are getting fat. In fact, the amount of stored data worldwide is heading toward a corpulent zettabyte in the next 10 years, with no end in sight. A storage crisis looms, experts say. IT managers in a recent Computerworld survey estimated that their companies’ storage capacity will jump a hefty 43% on average in the next 12 months (see complete survey results below).

Data might be piling up, but when it comes to storage systems, slim is in.

Burgeoning storage demands, coupled with the rising cost of power, are forcing companies to be ruthless about keeping their storage systems lean. Some are rejiggering their overall storage structures, and others are employing new technologies. In both cases, the goal is to consolidate hardware, reduce space and power demands, and lower costs.

At Intellidyn, for example, a modular storage system designed to reduce rack space has saved the company $170,000 in power and support costs. Conxerge cut costs with a SAN shared-disk system that uses less power and fewer disks and servers. The company’s power consumption has dropped as much as 70% — for an annual savings of $2,100 per rack. At Fotolog, storage servers can expand volumes as needed, saving $60,000 in administrative costs each year.

Lean storage is catching on. Among the respondents to our survey, 62% said they are taking steps to reduce costs related to their companies’ overall storage hardware footprints. And 53% said power and cooling requirements are a moderate to major consideration when buying data storage equipment.

So, what does this mean for IT? Columnist Mark Hall argues that despite what some in the industry say, the impending storage crisis won’t elevate the status of IT executives. What IT must do, he says, is make sure workers have as much information as they need.

Whether IT reputations will be polished or tarnished is yet to be determined. But following the examples of companies like Intellidyn, Conxerge and Fotolog and saving thousands in storage costs is a sure way to come out of the capacity crunch looking like a star.

Exclusive Security Survey Results

Computerworld's exclusive storage survey of 121 IT managers showed that on average, respondents expect their company's storage capacity to increase 43% in the next 12 months.

What's more, 79% said their company would be purchasing storage products and services in the next year, and most of this spending would be on storage hardware (65%). Read the full results below.

Spending Priorities

Cost of Doing Business

Does your company plan to purchase storage products or services in the next 12 months?

 Yes 79%
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No 7%
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 Considering, but not sure 13%
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 Don't know 1%

Hardware Investment

In which categories will you spend your storage budget?

Storage hardware: 65%
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Storage software: 23%
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 Storage services: 7%
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 Other: 5%

Under a Quarter

How much does your company plan to spend on storage hardware and software in the next 12 months?

 Less than $250,000 46%
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$250,000 to $500,000 17%
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$500,001 to $5 million 25%
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 More than $5 million 7%
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Don't know/Not sure 5%

Ready to Spend

Will the amount your company spends on storage hardware and software increase, decrease or stay the same, compared with the previous year?

50% It will increase, by 36% on average
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 13% It will decrease, by 47% on average
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29% Neither: It will remain the sameTD>
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 8% Don't know

Technology Plans

Virtualize This

Which emerging storage technologies are you evaluating or using?*

IP SANs 43%
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 No 60%
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 Continuous data protection 30%
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 Solid-state disks 26%
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 Hybrid hard drives 19%
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 Holographic storage 4%
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 Other 8%
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 None of the above 17%

* Respondents could choose all that apply.

A Virtual Future

Which emerging storage technology holds the most promise for the future?

Storage virtualization 24%
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Don't know/Not sure 18%
IP SANs 13%
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 Solid-state disks 11%
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 Holographic storage 8%
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 Continuous data protection 8%
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 Hybrid hard drives 7%
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Storage resource management software 5%
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 Data de-duplication 4%
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 Other 2%

NAS Leader

Which technologies do you use now or plan to use in the next 12 months?*

 Network-attached storage 61%
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 Fibre Channel SAN 54%
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Tape autoloader 49%
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 Direct-access storage devices 46%
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 Virtual tape library 32%
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 Storage resource management software 31%
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Storage virtualization 31%
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 IP SAN 30%
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 Data de-duplication 21%
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Nearline storage 17%
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 Solid-state disks 14%
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 Hybrid hard drives 12%
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 Holographic storage 2%
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 Don't know/not sure 6%

* Respondents could choose all that apply.

Storage Trends

By what percent do you expect your company's storage capacity to increase in the next 12 months?

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 Average: 43%

Smaller Is Better

Are you currently taking steps to reduce costs related to your company's overall storage hardware footprint?

Yes 38%
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 No 29%
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 Don't know/Not sure 9%

Cool Storage

Increasing power requirements and heat dissipation issues have become a concern for servers in the data center. How much of a concern are power and cooling requirements in choosing your data storage infrastructure?

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 A big concern 19%
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 A moderate concern 36%
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 Somewhat of a concern 28%
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 Not at all a concern 15%
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 Don't know/Not sure 2%

Energy Wise

Are power and cooling requirements (i.e., energy efficiency) a factor when you're buying data storage equipment?

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 Yes, a big factor 22%
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 Yes, a moderate factor 31%
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 Somewhat of a factor 35%
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 No, not at all a factor 12%

  Source for all charts: Exclusive Computerworld survey, February 2007; 121 respondents.

See more about slimmed-down storage:

Related:

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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