Dollars and SANs

  • Tan Ee Sze (Computerworld)
  • 17 November, 2000 12:01

Storage area networks (SANs) will contribute 44 percent of Singapore's external storage systems revenue in 2004, with network attached storage (NAS) making up 25 percent and the rest coming from direct attached storage (DAS). This will be a reversal of the current situation, in which revenue from DAS surpasses SAN by about six times.

These findings by market analyst International Data Corp. (IDC) were presented during its Asia-Pacific StorageVision2000 conference here last week.

Graham Penn, IDC Australia's director of storage research, Asia-Pacific, said a technology panel survey carried out earlier this year indicated that Singapore and Australia had a "significant number" of early-stage SAN implementations compared with other countries in the region. This was because the SAN implementations tended to grow out of mainframe environments which were more established in these relatively mature markets, he said.

According to David Cotter, executive storage consultant at Hitachi Data Systems, early adopters of SANs include airlines, telcos and the banks. "These have the biggest data problems today," he said.

Much of the data proliferation is associated with the growth of the Internet and the use of e-mail. People are simply storing new information and not getting rid of the old, said Cotter. "There's nothing older than yesterday's weather forecast, and yet some of it is stored there, and you make nine copies of it."

Penn of IDC estimated that storage requirements in an average organization double every 14 months. For an Internet Service Provider (ISP), the doubling comes every six months.

"If there is high Web activity, if an organization is an ISP or a telco, or recently implemented a customer relationship management or enterprise resource planning solution, you can be sure the IT manager is under increasing pressure to add to the organization's storage resources," he said.

The number of installed servers in a typical user organization is expected to double, and the storage associated with the servers is expected to increase by a factor of 10, said Penn.

"Most of the growth we see will be in open systems like Unix, Linux and NT," he added.

In the light of this data deluge, speakers at StorageVision2000 shared the view that storage will have to move from a server-centric model to a network-centric one.

Howie Wilcox, corporate evangelist from Network Appliance said with the server-centric architecture, each new application server requires its own storage solution, creating server islands. "It is a heterogeneous environment with different storage systems, and it gets very complex very fast," he said.

A network-centric solution like the SAN, in contrast, de-couples the relationship between servers and storage. "It creates a common file system that allows the global sharing of data," explained Scott Drummond, program director of SAN marketing, IBM Storage Subsystems Group.

SANs allow back-up, restore and data access operations to be carried out without the use of server resources. They also pave the way for other storage models such as the storage utility. Cotter of Hitachi Data Systems described this as an "on-site, network or Internet-enabled managed service that integrates disk, tape, media, network, applications and services with a pay-as-you-go financial package".

Such a model -- storage on tap -- would free businesses from wasting IT resources on backups, he said.