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Technologies & Trends in Data Storage World
P.K. Gupta
Monday, May 1, 2006
Information continues to grow 60- 80 percent around the world based on industry you are in. In 2005, the industry shipped 380 million disk drives totaling a massive 35 million terabytes (35 Exabyte) of storage - an increase of 60 percent from 2004. This underscores the enormous proliferation of digital content and the need for mass storage in the growing number of consumer electronics devices as well as across the computing landscape. As more content providers unlock digital content for users, data storage requirements increase and at the same time storage management becomes more difficult and important.

We see more customers moving towards disk based backup and recovery solutions, they will implement more disk-to-disk-to-tape solutions. With so many natural disasters, definitely there will be increase in disaster recovery/business continuity solutions implementations. As corporate governance and compliance issues increase in different industries and countries, they will require more e-mail archiving and records management solution. As the cost effectiveness of Serial ATA (SATA) and Serial-attached SCSI (SAS) increases, we will see lot more adoption to these technologies in coming years.

There will be lot of focus on data security whether data is at rest or data is in motion. Midrange arrays will become more popular as they become more intelligent. Organizations will set up tiers of storage to make the most cost-effective use of their storage resources in a move towards Information Life Cycle Management. We will see more storage services and consulting opportunities coming, as end users want to focus on their core business. There will be lot of focus on branch-office solutions, as organizations can’t afford to have expensive resources at each location for storage management.

Some other trends and technologies we will see in 2006: Demand for networked storage capacity will continue in 2006 and drive the need for more trained storage IT professionals, increased use of automated storage management tools based on standards, adoption of Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) practices and an increasingly critical need to comply with government regulations.Storage standards will continue to take-hold in the industry and play a vital role to drive industry processes for greater interoperability. Securing the storage infrastructure and data protection will become integral to corporate-wide IT security strategies and practices.

The Internet will continue to be an incubator of innovative ways to store, mine, and create data to drive increased information value and new information services for both the commercial and consumer sectors worldwide. The Small Medium Business segment will continue to be a growth segment for networked storage. Utility computing and grid computing architectures will increasingly reference Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) standards for storage and data management.

There is lot of focus on standards to solve end users problem of heterogeneous storage management, storage security as we saw lot of identity theft cases around the world and data management. Below are just a few examples of some of the few things to watch in year to come.

Standards that drive the benefits of storage networks to end users and streamline the development and deployment process for vendors will remain an important activity. Over the last several years, the SNIA has built a rigorous and efficient process to usher storage innovations from the development of standards specifications, through the implementation and testing of products built on these industry standards.

Today the SNIA standards pipeline includes four key specifications, the association is working to develop and refine for the industry.

The most visible standard from the SNIA, the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) continues to build powerful industry momentum. With version 1.0.2 approved by ANSI as an approved industry standard, the association is moving forward with its plans to receive International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approval in 2006. Additionally work on SMI-S versions 1.1 is underway with products from over 30 vendors implementing the emerging standard and preparing for compliance testing. SMI-S version 1.2 is in the early stages of the definition phase.

Lastly, in late 2005, the SNIA accepted a new proposed specification for review that is aimed at providing an application-level interface for fixed-content or reference-information storage systems such as Content Aware Storage.

It is no secret that information security continues to be a hot-topic for all aspects of the industry. Continuing to develop storage security awareness and provide practical guidance will continue as a high-priority throughout 2006 from all the storage vendors.

The Storage Security Industry Forum will focus in early 2006 on extending the current storage security requirements, measurable best practices and identifying next steps. They will extend the body of knowledge to include the perspectives and needs of enterprise Chief Security Officers, Chief Compliance Officers and Auditors. These people need to understand that if the storage administrators do not follow best practices their storage infrastructure and compliance initiatives will be at risk.

The extended release of guidance and best practices will be unveiled in first half of 2006. The ultimate goal of these documents will be to provide guidance on what security services are necessary to assure compliance as well as providing the details on which data users should secure and how they should do it.

Data Management
The SNIA’s Data Management Forum (DMF) will continue its efforts to unify the industry towards a common goal of placing information as the central actor in infrastructure management practices that include storage around ‘information-based’ management practices such as ILM.

The DMF will continue to work to develop standards and best practices for information-based management based on several existing initiatives that will be propelled forward in 2006. These efforts include:
The Information Classification Task Force, an international multifunctional team working on best practices and requirements for the initial classification stage of ILM.
The 100 Year Archive Task Force, also an international multifunctional team working on best practices for the storage methods, practices, and standards associated with very long term electronic retention (online archive).

Extending SMI-S standard to data, information, and security services. ILM-based practices promise to simplify operations and deliver significantly reduced operating costs in the face of growing datacenter complexity.

The SNIA Continuous Data Protection (CDP) Special Interest Group (SIG) will continue its market education initiatives to help shift the industry’s thinking from backup towards recovery and continuous operations through a variety of activities focusing on continuous data protection.

All in all, Storage will remain the hottest topic after security. Lot of innovation is happening in this industry by big vendors and small startups. We have seen VCs investing a lot of money in this industry since the start of the year. India has most of the big vendors present and the good point is that most of the startups also either have their operations in India or are in the process of starting the operations in India. About 25 storage startup companies have their R&D centers in India. Long live storage.

P K Gupta is the Chairman, Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) - India and Director Product Marketing - APJ, EMC Software.
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