Blades, networking to drive storage next year

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Blade servers, iSCSI and networked storage are three themes Australian resellers can expect to harness for bigger profits from the data management sector next year, industry players said.

Blade servers, iSCSI and networked storage are three themes Australian resellers can expect to harness for bigger profits from the data management sector next year, industry players said.

Channel partners agree those three items are likely money-makers in the storage market in 2005 – a sector expected to be one of the strongest in IT next year.

Paul Wellar, storage systems director at storage, networking and security niche distributor Lan 1, said business continuity, tiered storage and networked storage would hold the key to “major” opportunities for all levels of resellers in 2005.

Business continuity – including but not limited to disaster recovery – would involve SMBs and larger firms alike in data replication and moving data from disk to disk and disk to tape, he said.

“This will give the channel the chance to sell consulting services and hardware. It will also open up chances for managed or outsourced services,” Wellar said. “With communications costs being reduced and software improvements, hosting these services become a viable opportunity.”

Meanwhile, organisations with more than 1 TB of data to manage would start to investigate moving perhaps 80 percent of it to lower-cost storage such as NAS or iSCSI arrays, he said.

Resellers would need to understand the properties of data and how those related to business issues to develop a customer offering incorporating software and hardware. “There is no silver bullet for this nor is there a sole tiered storage (ILM) product,” Wellar said.

Companies of all sizes would centralise more storage, especially as applications and a need for availability dictated the ability to share storage and data resources. Fibre channel SANs, IP or iSCSI SANs and NAS would be deployed to further that aim, he said.

“All storage will be networked over the next five years. Why? Because it makes good business and technical sense. Just like LANs made more sense than individual PCs,” Wellar said. 

Graham Schultz, partner manager at fibre channel vendor Brocade, mostly agreed with Wellar but said iSCSI could likely fall by the wayside in the face of competition from fibre channel and SAN offerings.

“Resellers maybe haven’t thought through how this is going to affect iSCSI,” he said.

Costs were coming down for fibre channel to the point where companies of any size could get the benefits and achieve maximum consolidation using bladed server infrastructure. As a result, the business case for iSCSI was weakening, Schultz claimed.

“One of the major trends will probably be consolidation, not only in storage and in switching infrastructure but also moving up into the server and applications,” he said.

Networked storage was increasing in importance, but Schultz thought there would still be pockets of un-networked storage in about five years, particularly in very small companies.

“I don’t think the average guy with a two-computer corner shop will have networked storage,” Schultz said.

David Henderson, channel manager at storage vendor EMC, agreed that blade servers and fibre channel were about to get a lot bigger. Costs were coming down and attracting smaller companies to storage investments. EMC’s partnership with distributor LAN Systems was going “from strength to strength”, he said.

“Networked storage growth will greatly accelerate. The three industry drivers are iSCSI, software upgrades and blade technology,” Henderson said.

Vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle were pushing customers to upgrade their applications with consolidation of information a key issue, he added.

iSCSI would continue to provide a viable alternative for companies counting their pennies, Henderson said.


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