Stats Watch: Storage solutions top of IT heads' minds

Storage "solutions" are one of the fastest growing markets in the region, and storage area networks (SANs) are leading the way.

Storage “solutions” are one of the fastest growing markets in the region, and storage area networks (SANs) are leading the way.

Organisations are looking for simpler, more efficient ways of benefiting from IT without the headaches, and so for storage — like ERP, CRM and supply chain management — they are turning to complete solutions rather than standalone components to solve business objectives, says analyst IDC.

That means IT suppliers and consultants are having to work together to offer complete solutions for complex, heterogeneous environments. It means suppliers need to include hardware, software, services, networking equipment and telecomms services, and ensure end-user support before, during and after a network storage implementation. It means SANs — separate networks devoted to storage — and network-attached storage (NAS) — dedicated, networked storage servers — are going mainstream for businesses of all sizes, with SANs appearing to gain ascendancy. Annual compound growth rates for storage solutions and software in the region are expected to be above 25% between now and 2006.

IDC says a growing requirement for storing and managing valuable enterprise information, growing use of e-commerce, the internet and mobile devices are behind the shift in attitude.

SANs are growing in tastiness because of the multi-vendor support before and after implementation, their performance/pricing delivery and their provision of end-to-end capability, according to an IDC survey of Australian companies. Respondents expect issues around a diverse range of users, devices and data types to be addressed, without busting budgets or managers’ blood vessels.

But a move from direct-attached model to SAN is “a daunting task” for an IS manager, says IDC, a horses-for-courses one which will require research to choose the ideal solution for an organisation within a particular industry. Reasons to shift to a network-centric model: some applications can’t run in a simple direct-attached environment, concern over business continuity issues and a need to better manage delivery of critical data to users inside and out of the organisation while coping with budget restraints.

NAS, however, may prove cost-effective for organisations that need high accessibility, performance and scalability without large upfront outlays of cash and lengthy implementation periods, says IDC. It is more likely to suit those with large numbers of LAN users, lots of client-server apps, data traffic, files and objects, multiple operating systems and frequently changing users.

In a survey of 300 organisations in Australia, the majority had no plans to adopt a SAN, but nearly 48% either had implemented one or were considering doing so.

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