Storage growth fuels admin woes

"Storage is becoming the centre of the IT universe," said Graham Penn, general manager of research a IDC Australia, to underscore the impact storage is having on businesses.

Penn, who was speaking at the IDC Storage Perspectives 1999 conference in Singapore recently, noted, however, that most of the world's data and information is still not stored electronically but in paper form.

"Going into electronic-business means that we're taking paper off the loop," he said. "And we must store data somewhere in magnetic form."

According to IDC figures, 2.1 petabytes of storage shipped in 1998 in the Asia-Pacific region. Of this, disk storage systems dominated with 88.2 per cent, or $US998.7 million of the market, compared to $133 million for tape systems. New data types that add to the storage task are text and numbers, graphics, images and pictures, analogue and real time data, voice and sound that is being captured in real time, and video, IDC said.

"Video on demand is the key market for storage," Penn said. However, with all these new demands, the backup and data management problem will get worse, he added. "Given that the amount of data is expected to double at least every 17 months, in some cases every 12 months, we have a problem. Adding disks or tape libraries helps to hold the data, but exacerbates the management problem."

IDC estimates that it requires one person to manage each 100Gbytes today in a host-attached environment. Given the data explosion, an organisation with 100Gbytes of disk storage today will conservatively have 800Gbytes in 2003.

"By re-architecting through storage area networks (SAN), the same person would continue to be able to manage all that data." He said that business managers would welcome the SAN proposition. "At the end of the day, will a company be willing to pay for eight storage managers?" he asked.

By 2003, SANs will represent almost 40 per cent of the market. As for disk storage hardware costs, the price per megabyte will fall by about 30 per cent per annum till 2003, according to IDC. Storage in 2003 will be at 1/100th that of 1994 prices. Given the law of demand and supply, lower prices will increase demand for storage, which in turn will intensify the management issue for storage administrators.

Penn also noted that in many organisations today, typically only 15 per cent of all data is backed up and could be restored in a reasonable time period. "You should address the systems restore issue as well as backup issue," he recommended to storage managers.

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