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Storage trends 2009: Strategies for solution providers

Get a handle on the major storage trends that are emerging for 2009 so you can guide your customers and develop your channel strategy.

Solution provider takeaway: Solution providers can keep up with 2009's key storage trends among end-user companies.

For those who did not attend the Storage Strategies for Channel Professionals events this past fall in New York or San Francisco, here are some quick storage trends, topics, themes and technologies that are creating opportunities for solution providers in 2009. For those who did attend, this tip will serve as a refresher as well as provide additional perspectives to help you prepare for 2009 and beyond.

Moving into 2009, the mantra of doing more with less will continue; however, so too will buying opportunities for those who have the budgets and flexibility to wield their purchasing power. Additional storage trends and themes include storing more data in a smaller footprint, storing more copies of data in different locations, and keeping more copies of data for longer periods of time. Also, data moving forward will require more storage capacity and better performance along with associated management.

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Green hype and green washing are on the endangered species list, while gaining realistic economic efficiencies now (aka the new green) to boost productivity and sustain business growth is here to stay. (See our FAQ guide on green data storage projects to learn how to boost efficiency and productivity for your storage customers.)

There is also a shift in focus taking place, from virtualization equating to consolidation to the use of virtualization to enable management, data movement and migration along with other routine infrastructure resource management tasks.

What can you as a solution provider do to help your customers address the above issues? There are many different approaches, depending on your clients' specific requirements and needs. A starting point is to understand the differences between myths and realties that can be leveraged to create new opportunities while addressing customer pain points and perhaps filling voids that your competitors may be missing out on or ignoring.

One storage strategy is technology alignment -- aligning different tiers of servers, services, storage and networks as well as data protection to various Quality of Service (QoS) and service-level agreement (SLA) objective requirements. For tiered storage, look at achieving a higher rate of work performed per watt of energy in a given footprint and cost point, such as transactions per watt, IOPS or bandwidth per watt, files or emails processed per watt, videos or other objects moved per watt of energy, equating to greater storage efficiency for active data.

To meet QoS and SLA requirements for active data or idle, dormant or static data, balance performance, availability, capacity and energy (PACE) across different tiers of IT resources. By leveraging different data protection techniques to meet various recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) requirements of different applications, business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) budget dollars can be stretched. Align the applicable tier of data protection technology or service to the task at hand.

Also, look at reducing the data footprint for both online and primary data as well as secondary, near-line and off-line data. If a customer is asking about deduplication, expand the conversation (and the opportunity) to address online and off-line data footprint reduction including archiving databases, email and file systems, as well as online compression, space-saving snapshots and other techniques for a larger overall benefit.

In general, help your customers gain control and maximize the effectiveness of IT resource usage without negatively affecting service levels or response time. Some items to consider include helping your customers develop data footprint reduction, data protection and DLP as well as tiered storage and infrastructure resource management strategies. You can also provide associated implementation and support services.

Work with your customers to identify and fill in the gaps to complement virtualization framework capabilities as well as to re-architect data protection for virtual and physical environments. For example, determine how replication, snapshots and other techniques, such as VMware Site Recovery Manager or VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), can be used to reduce management overhead while boosting service levels for protecting virtual servers.

By focusing on boosting or maintaining service levels, you have the opportunity to help your customers address and fix bottlenecks instead of moving them around. The byproduct is the ability to optimize PACE while also addressing the power, cooling, floor space and environmental (PCFE) -- aka green -- storage trend.

About the author
Greg Schulz is founder of the StorageIO Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm, as well as author of the books
Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (Auerbach).


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