Virtualisation, Cheap Terabytes Key in Data Storage Trends

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Bigger disks, virtualisation, de-duplication and online back-up. We round up the top trends in storage

Based on conversations with storage vendors, analysts, data centre managers, CIOs and CTOs – even a few former industry executives now blissfully retired and simply watching this evolution with continued amazement – here are the key storage trends today:

Ever-increasing capaciousness in the hardware: Capacities in new-generation hard disks, NAND and NOR Flash, digital tape and optical disks continues to skyrocket, thanks to brilliant engineering. As millions more transistors are crammed onto silicon chips at Intel, AMD, Samsung and other processor-makers, increasing storage space is being created for all the forms that hold bits and bytes. There’s a physical limit, but we’re not anywhere near it yet, experts say.

For example, laptops with 1TB storage drives are only months away from general availability.

Virtualisation of formerly siloed storage systems: This trend started with testing and quality assurance work back in the mid-2000s but is now trending very quickly up. Many of these siloed systems – especially in larger enterprises – are still in transition, but industry analysts now estimate that some sort of virtualisation is now being used in production in nearly 90 percent of all enterprise IT systems. Only two years ago that percentage was in the 20s.

Standardisation of deduplication in Tier 2 and Tier 3 storage: Where new-generation deduplication was a new and more-or-less experimental feature three years ago and being offered by only a handful of storage providers (two of them were Avamar, now property of EMC, and RockSoft, bought by ADIC, which was in turn bought by Quantum), it is pretty much a standard requirement now.

Data deduplication, one of the most important breakthroughs in IT in the last two decades, eliminates redundant data from a disk storage device in order to lower storage space requirements, which in turn lowers data centre power and cooling costs and lessens the amount of carbon dioxide produced to generate power to run the hardware.

What’s not to like about dedupe? If you said or thought “nothing,” you’re right.

Online backup storage: Small and medium-size businesses and departments of large enterprises alike are now signing on in increasing numbers to services such as Mozy.com, Carbonite, Box.net, Amazon S3, CommVault, Asigra, iDrive, Iron Mountain Digital, Seagate EVault, and others. It took a couple of years for trust to become established – and trust is still by far the biggest issue – but reports of serious data loss have been relatively few and far between.

It won’t be long before every laptop and netbook sold will feature a pre-install that will include online backup and virus protection. EMC is already providing this with its Atmos service for its Iomega desktop storage drives.

Secure, private cloud storage: Don’t confuse this with online backup. In the last eight months, EMC, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Symantec, CA and ParaScale joined the quickly expanding market for software that enables companies to build their own private cloud computing environments. Those vendors introduced separate do-it-yourself cloud-building platforms, sparking a trend that includes such businesses as 3tera and Citrix, in addition to lesser-known smaller companies such as Nirvanix, Bycast, and Cleversafe.

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