Enterprise data storage outlook 2010: Industry predictions; Top 10 news stories of 2009

Headlines: After a year of change and a bleak economy, the storage industry looks ahead to loosening IT budget strings, cloud storage and storage efficiency in 2010; Top storage news this year ranged from M&A to data storage virtualization, NAS and object-based systems, data deduplication and solid-state drives.

Enterprise data storage outlook 2010: Industry predictions for storage pros

While capital budgets are loosening for many IT departments and the economy is apparently stabilizing, enterprise data storage industry experts say a full recovery from the most recent downturn is still a ways off as 2010 arrives. That means capital and operational efficiencies will continue to rule purchasing decisions this year.

Experts see IT concentration on operational costs

The economy's effect on business processes and new technology innovation will likely dominate the IT and data storage landscape in 2010. According to IDC's "Worldwide Storage 2010 Top 10 Predictions" report, IT will undergo "a shift away from capital cost efficiencies to operational cost efficiencies." The bottom line is the development of "a business-level bias in most companies toward virtualized and/or services-oriented offerings for storage solutions."

In addition, IDC said business units will look to establish greater independence from IT. "Clear signs of this development include explosive expansion in the use of SharePoint, lots of interest in software as a services (business applications), and a preference for 'appliance' packages for decision support/analytics or content archiving," the report reads.

Read the full story on the data storage outlook for 2010.

Top 10 enterprise data storage news stories of 2009

Due largely to a depressed economy, 2009 was a tumultuous year for IT pros. The pace of data growth continued, but the poor economy mandated flat or decreased data storage budgets in corporations around the world. As storage vendors' sales cratered, they turned to emerging technologies such as data deduplication, solid-state drives (SSDs) and the cloud to try and stimulate enterprise data storage spending in coming years. These trends were underscored by the most significant news stories and trends of 2009:

10. Data deduplication branches out

Data deduplication in backup targets (virtual tape libraries and network-attached storage [NAS] arrays) was no longer a bleeding-edge technology. In Storage magazine's most recent Data Storage Purchasing Intentions survey conducted in early September, 21% of respondents said they use deduplication. Twenty-six percent have added it or plan to add it this year. Both figures are new highs for the survey.

As deduplication settled into a comfortable role in backup, data-reduction technology started working its way into other parts of the data storage infrastructure, including primary as well as nearline and archived data.

9. Object-based data storage re-invented

Object data storage isn't a new concept in the NAS world, but products bypassing traditional file system interfaces began to emerge in 2009 as people began debating the best way to cope with unstructured data and storage in the cloud.

EMC Corp. introduced its object-based Atmos storage system in 2008, and in 2009 opened a cloud storage service along with AT&T based on the Atmos platform.

Atmos got a new direct competitor this year with DataDirect Networks' Web Object Scaler (WOS). Both companies say they made progress selling these offerings but decline to say how many customers they have so far. Cleversafe Inc. also brought its dsNet Object Store out of the beta testing phase in September 2009, and NetApp Inc. cloud czar Val Bercovici revealed in a blog post that the company best known for network-attached data storage will also be offering a native object data storage interface.

See the full list of the year's top data storage news stories.

Top enterprise data storage acquisitions of 2009

Picking the biggest enterprise data storage acquisition of 2009 is a no-brainer. EMC Corp.'s $2.1 billion buy of Data Domain held the storage industry's rapt attention for six weeks while EMC outbid NetApp and created waves in the backup market. It also was the only major data storage acquisition completed in 2009.

Besides the Data Domain deal, 2009 storage M&A was more notable for the deals that didn't come off. Host bus adapter (HBA) vendor Emulex Corp. fought off a $912 million hostile takeover attempt from networking chip vendor Broadcom Corp. After losing Data Domain, NetApp was considered a prime candidate to buy or be bought. Neither happened. Seven weeks after Brocade reportedly put itself up for sale, CEO Mike Klayko declared the company was not on the block. By then, its most likely suitor, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., bought Ethernet switch vendor 3Com instead of SAN-LAN switch vendor Brocade.

When Dell Inc. said it was shopping, a lot of people anticipated it would try to repeat its EqualLogic deal and buy another storage company. It bought Perot Systems instead.

It's been nearly seven months since Oracle Corp. agreed to pay $5.6 billion for Sun Microsystems Inc. That deal has yet to close because of regulatory issues and won't happen before 2010. Frequent storage shoppers IBM and Symantec Corp. didn't make any data storage buys in 2009, and EMC had an unusually quiet M&A year except for Data Doman.

Read the full story on the top enterprise data storage acquisitions of 2009.

Enterprise data storage beyond 2010: What's cooking in academic R&D labs

This is the time of year when people in the technology industry give us their predictions of what's coming in the next year, but some vendors are already working with academic institutions on ideas that won't come to fruition for at least another 18 months. Enterprise data storage vendors LSI Corp., NetApp Inc. and EMC Corp. have interesting projects underway to create research and development for future waves of enterprise data storage and data management technologies.

LSI and Wichita State University: Next-generation storage controllers, security

LSI and Wichita State University (WSU) in Kansas partnered this year to open LSI's first storage-focused research facility on the WSU campus. Cisco Systems Inc. also has a relationship with WSU for a networking research center on campus. LSI and Cisco will donate equipment, including storage controllers, disk arrays and Fibre Channel and Ethernet switches, to WSU's new Center for Storage Networking Research.

LSI's Engenio enterprise data storage division has a facility in Wichita, and WSU associate provost and chief information officer Ravi Pendse said the university is preparing to offer certification training in storage management to students in addition to conducting research.

Read on to learn what's happening at academic R&D labs.

Evolving cloud storage market has users weighing their enterprise data storage options

Despite all of the hype surrounding cloud storage these days, it remains a difficult concept to explain. It can get even harder to grasp when divided into subtypes of cloud storage, such as private and public clouds, internal cloud, external cloud and hybrid cloud, each still evolving and at times overlapping.

This series will shed light on cloud storage options, beginning with this introduction into the terms and goals driving the cloud concept. The subsequent parts of the series will include closer looks at external storage clouds and internal storage clouds, followed by a peek at where cloud storage is heading.

Academic researchers seek to set boundaries

A lot of effort went into the process of coming up with formal definitions for the storage cloud last year. A research team from the University of California at Berkeley's Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department took a shot at it last February with a paper called "Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing."

According to the Berkeley researchers, "Cloud Computing refers to both the applications delivered as services over the Internet and the hardware and systems software in the data centers that provide those services."

See the five steps to building a cloud storage services business.

Iomega portable hard drives can store and sync virtual PC images with v.Clone

EMC Corp.'s SMB and consumer storage subsidiary Iomega Corp. will begin shipping a new software utility for Microsoft Windows PCs this month called v.Clone, which will copy a virtual machine (VM) image onto an Iomega portable hard drive and then mount that machine image on a secondary computer.

The concept is similar to VMware's virtual servers and desktop -- a software-only image of a machine that can be booted on different hardware.

The main difference between the v.Clone virtual PC image and those made with enterprise-level VMware ESX or VDI products is v.Clone's ability to keep files up to date while the primary PC is in use, and resynchronize changes made to files while the virtual PC image is running on the secondary machine.

Read the full story on Iomega's portable hard drives.

Datalink buys Incentra

Solution provider Datalink announced in December that it has completed the purchase of Broomfield, Colo., reseller Incentra, excluding Incentra's managed service provider (MSP) business. Datalink said the $8.8 million transaction will represent $90 million to $100 million in annual revenue from 2,000 enterprise customers throughout the United States. The acquisition brings Datalink's employee base to more than 300, according to the company.

Datalink CEO Paul Lidsky said that the acquisition will double the company's presence in Chicago and the Northeast and create a "significant presence" in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.

Datalink plans to complete the integration of Incentra by mid-March.

Additional storage news

Check out the most recent storage channel news roundup here.

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