Technology Positioning Statement Report

5.1.6 High-capacity Storage Media

Description: Storage media (e.g. hard disks, tapes, CDs, DVDs) for backup and archiving of high-volume data in server environments.

Category: 5 - Servers   Subcategory: 1 - General Purpose Servers
Old Category: none




Industry UsageSC Usage

Performance Metrics

Storage capacity; recording and playback bandwidth; parallel capabilities; scalability; reliability; cost per megabyte.

Usage and Dependencies

Industry Usage: This category focuses on storage media. See also 5.1.8, which focuses on backup/restore systems. In 2000 there were countless product and technology innovations that will change the way the industry stores information. The following are a few of the innovations that look particularly interesting:
* Disk arrays: During 2000, just about every major vendor introduced either a new line of high-end disk arrays or new models at the top of an existing line. EMC upgraded and consolidated its Symmetrix line in the new 8000 series; IBM delivered the full function Shark; Sun stepped out with the T3 line; MTI weighed in with a dual purpose storage area network/network attached storage (SAN/NAS) array and LSI Logic Storage became the leading OEM vendor with its MetaStor line. But, the most innovative technology came from Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), which built a SAN rather than a backbone bus into its 9000 Freedom series to deliver exceptional performance and capacity flexibility.
*Tape and tape robotic technologies: Tape made the most dramatic change industrywide of all computer technologies. Quantum delivered Super DLT; the consortium of Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM and Seagate each shipped versions of linear tape open (LTO) tape drives; and STK checked in with the 9940, a very high-performance/capacity version of its 9840 technology. All of the robotics vendors announced and shipped new tape libraries that support all of the new tape media; while DDT and SLR technology vendors waged all but hand-to-hand combat in the small to midsized business (SMB) market. Sony not only delivered the next generation AIT product, but it enhanced the memory-in-cassette feature which allows you to analyze data about the cartridge and its contents without processing or even handling the tape itself. Other tape vendors are now offering variations on this theme. Disk drives are not as economical when comparing high capacity tape to disk arrays capable of remote mirroring (unless you consider 20X the cost “almost as economical”).
· SAN (Storage Area Network) technology: 2000 was the setup year for SAN technology; Brocade dominated switch technology and standards, while InRange and McData led at the high-end, director level switching architecture. Every disk and tape vendor delivered a FC-based, SAN ready product; Cisco and Brocade made a huge splash announcing FC to IP bridges, while competitors like CNT and Vixel just delivered them. At least four different flavors of SCSI over IP were proposed as industry standards, and SAN appliances from Compaq, Dell, Sun, trueSAN, etc., both in-band and out-of-band, delivered mirroring, remote copy and instant imaging. In the long run, it will be the interoperability labs from Compaq, EMC, Imation, IBM, Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) courtesy of Compaq, et al., which will enable SAN to fulfill its promise of truly open storage.
* NAS technology: Filers from Network Appliances dominated the NAS market for most of the year, but every storage vendor had a family of NAS products in place by year-end. EMC validated the technology in the eyes of many high-end CIOs by announcing the IP4700. Perhaps the most creative NAS solution came from Quantum, which offered the Snap Server with up to half a terabyte of disk capacity in a server-sized frame under $10,000 for the small office/home office market. The Internet Storage Infrastructure Server adds value to the storage proposition by offering content management solutions.
* Storage management software: 2000 was an exciting year for any software product that survived the Year 2000 (Y2K) challenge. Among the big three, Veritas upgraded its entire software suite and introduced its SANpoint SAN management package, but more importantly it established its Foundation Suite on IBM’s AIX platform. Tivoli upgraded its storage management software family, but importantly took on the point position for IBM’s SAN strategy. Legato upgraded and consolidated its core by shipping Networker Version 6 (also shipped by Sun as Solstice Backup V6); but more importantly, saw Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) accepted as a de facto industry standard.

The storage software industry was a veritable cauldron of alliances and acquisitions: EMC completed integration of Softworks and later bought CrosStor, which made it a supplier to HP among others; IBM integrated Mercury Software and Mylex, which made it a Dell disk array OEM; Sun bought HighGround for its SRM expertise, which made it a Compaq partner as Compaq had a seat on the board; and Veritas and Seagate split amicably, letting Seagate go private while Veritas ended up with all of the storage management software products. But, much more interesting over time will be HighRoad from EMC, a Celera-based software product that spans both SAN and NAS technology and blurs their differences by choosing the appropriate data path back to the application.
* Storage Service Providers: 2000 was also the year that storage service providers (SSPs) proliferated. Storage Networking pioneered this technology, but it has quickly fractured into SSPs targeted at specific markets and specialty servers known as Internet storage infrastructure servers that provide valued add function, as well as data capacity. SSPs today address the emergency overflow capacity requirements many users have and help provide storage expertise many users can’t afford to keep on staff; so far, however, they haven’t become the prime storage option of choice for most core business applications.

Storage became a key component in disaster recovery planning for open systems as tape technology approached parity with disk technology in density and serial performance; mainframe concepts, such as instant image snapshots, mirroring and remote copy became SAN standard functions. Hierarchical storage management (HSM) is now widely available for open servers, but just does not seem to fit the nonmainframe environment. Probably the most lasting challenge for storage will be skilled staff; here the managed storage providers (MSPs), particularly the major disk vendors, such as Compaq, HP and IBM Global Services with their massive storage skill base, adhere to that old business dictum: “Find a need and fill it.” --These Are a Few of My Favorite (Storage) Things..., Bob Zimmerman, Giga, January 12, 2001.

SC Usage: Storage capacity limitations are currently causing issues with regard to Exchange email, in which backups and defragmentation sessions are difficult. Due to a lack of document expiration policies and practices, there will be a continuing, approximately linear growth in the capacity requirement for archive and backup storage space. Planners should recognize that storage is not just a hardware problem but requires a significant effort at planning what should be stored where, for how long, etc. These policy decisions cannot all be made by IT personnel (see the reference by Zimmerman).

SC Application Impacts: Applications should be designed to manage their own document products through the entire lifecycle from creation to eventual archival or removal. "Data warehousing invites (and indeed requires) managing storage as an enterprise resource." -- Lou Agosta, Giga.

Last Update: Valid Until:


Make or Break Criteria for Data Backup Strategy, Bob Zimmerman, Giga, Feb. 13, 2001.
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