EMA survey: SAN, NAS surpass DAS as storage topologies

A recent survey by Enterprise Management Associates provides added insight into how various storage topologies configurations are moving into the marketplace. Thankfully, the results seem to provide some good news for both users and vendors.

We asked the survey respondents about the storage layout they had at their sites. It seems that, where networked storage is concerned, enterprise IT shops have at last reached the crossover point: storage-area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS) have surpassed direct-attached storage (DAS) as storage topologies, at least for the readers of this article.

Some 58% of the responses indicated that data is still kept on DAS devices, while 79% of the IT managers stated they were responsible for at least one SAN installation. Additionally, 63% ran one or more NAS devices in their shops. This of course will come as pleasant news for networked storage vendors.

Our report also indicates that two relatively new technologies seem to be staking greater claims as well: one third of the respondents now report storage pooling (virtualization) at their sites, and about one in six is now using iSCSI.

Who was represented in our survey? The survey was conducted at the EMA Web site, and drew a population sample from firms and governmental organizations of all sizes. The largest segments of the sample were technology companies (25%), government (18%), service providers (16%), financial/accounting firms (12%), and companies in the telecom segment (9%). Also represented were the retail, manufacturing, oil, outsourcing, wholesale/transport, healthcare, education, and legal segments. The hardware mix at these sites includes storage that supports Windows, mainframe, and open systems devices.

Almost one in five managers claimed IT budgets of greater than US$100 million, and an additional 21% spent between US$10 million to $99 million. Only 28% spent less than $500,000 on IT each year. Not unexpectedly, IT budgets correlated closely with the size of the enterprise in all cases: large companies spend large amounts on IT, and smaller companies spend progressively smaller sums.

With upwards of 40% spending $10 million or more, can we expect the market to begin its long-awaited upswing? If some other insights are to be believed, then the signs do seem to point to "yes." Banc of America Securities recently surveyed CIOs and found that almost three-quarters of them expect to spend "above plan" for the rest of the year.

Where all this will lead is still to be determined, but one thing at least is quite clear: investment in IT may be beginning to pick up and, if that is the case, networked storage is sure to be an important segment of that investment.

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