Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Storage: Fear, Loss, and Innovation

Research: The changing face of datacenter storage systems

Storage systems are the core component of datacenters. A recent Tech Pro Research survey focused on storage needs and technologies, including solid-state disk tier and data management.

Storage systems are at the core of any datacenter, whether it be small, medium, large, cloud or non-cloud. When implemented correctly, they can help a business thrive. If handled poorly, they can cripple datacenter priorities and put companies at risk.

Tech Pro Research conducted an online survey in November 2013 to find out more about storage needs and plans, including what features people are actually using. Respondents in the report, Datacenter storage needs: Trends, features and cloud priorities, discussed:

  • Storage technologies
  • Solid state disk tier
  • Data management
  • Preferred vendors
  • Changing storage needs
  • How storage resources are used

The survey showed that storage systems are more important than ever. There have been incredible advances in storage system technology that can aid a number of business priorities. Companies have been virtualizing, using new types of applications and considering cloud priorities. All of these goals are critically assisted by storage systems today.

Features such as deduplication, performance tiering, where and how to use solid-state drives (SSDs) and cloud options are critical decision points. With all of these new features and cloud options available, it becomes hard to sort through what makes sense for an organization. The survey outlined a few areas to help companies plan for the future.

Storage technologies

As seen in Figure A, the survey asked 242 respondents which storage technologies are active in their datacenter. This is important in a number of ways. Just a few years ago, this question wouldn't really be significant as the answers would have been distributed between block and file storage protocols that have been in use forever.

Now, traditional NAS and SAN protocols represent only 70 percent of storage technologies in use. Companies also have measurable use now of cloud technologies (both public and private) for their storage needs. In fact, object storage (OS) is in use in 10 percent of the respondents' datacenters (on-premise cloud technologies). Object storage to a public cloud comes in at around 8 percent, which is very impressive adoption.

figure a

Figure A

Storage growth

The survey also showed how storage needs unfold in the future. In terms of anticipated growth, as seen in Figure B, 34 percent of the respondents expect a storage growth of between 26 and 50 percent. That can be huge if applied to a very large data profile. Most respondents (39 percent) reported that their storage growth would be between 1 and 25 percent.

figure b

Figure B

Changing datacenter storage needs

Companies should rethink what their storage needs are, and how new technologies can aid them. Some of the specific items may come as a surprise, such as how much direct-attached storage is in use. That by itself isn't bad — in fact, it's setting the stage for some storage solutions that are leveraging direct-attached storage exclusively.

Staying informed about the latest storage options and what competitors are doing in your industry, and elsewhere, is key to keeping a datacenter current.

To read more on the subject, download the full Tech Pro Research report, Datacenter storage needs: Trends, features and cloud priorities. The report is free to all Tech Pro Research subscribers.

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