Storage network security, network-attached storage (NAS), iSCSI planning, blade servers, super tape drives, and limited budgets. All of those issues might appear relatively simple, but they all involve tough decisions for storage professionals. To tackle all of them, we tapped the expertise of a number of leading storage consultants and analysts to help us out in this month's features section.
Just when you thought the NAS market was getting predictable (and boring), a number of new technologies are emerging to solve some of NAS's age-old problems, most notably scalability and manageability. In our Special Report, The Taneja Group's Brad O'Neill takes a look at a wide variety of developments in NAS, including management (file management, capacity management, and file services), the controversial database-on-NAS debate, file systems (single, distributed, and clustered), Microsoft's role in the NAS market, NAS-SAN convergence, and NAS benchmarks. In short, NAS isn't your father's Cadillac anymore, nor is it your old Beetle.
There are plenty of new storage technologies floating around these days, but unfortunately most of them are expensive and you have budgetary constraints. So how do you deal with rapidly escalating storage capacities while holding on to the bottom line? That's the subject of an executive summary that we excerpted from a huge end-user survey—"Storage execution in a time of scarcity"—conducted by the Aberdeen Group's David Hill.
The report offers hundreds of interesting facts about how your peers are dealing with the pressing storage issues, but here's one tidbit in the context of budgets: Despite tight overall IT budgets, a full 55% of the survey respondents have increased storage budgets in 2004 versus 2003 (mostly in the range of 10% to 25% budgetary increases). About 37% of the respondents' storage budgets will "stay the same," and only 8% reported decreases in storage budgets. So if upper management has cut or leveled your storage budget, they've put you in the minority of your peers.
The Year of iSCSI?
According to our reader surveys and research conducted by a variety of consulting firms, we cautiously agree that 2004 may be The Year of iSCSI and IP SANs. However, despite the vaunted simplicity of IP SANs, they will require careful planning. In part of an ongoing series on iSCSI planning and deployment, Margalla Communications' Saqib Jang this month tackles iSCSI targets (disk/tape subsystems), high availability, and security in the context of IP SANs.
Blade servers (or vice versa)
You know that blade servers (or server blades) have hit the big time when they've got their own trade association—the Blade Systems Alliance, www.bladesys tems.org—as well as a dedicated trade show—Server Blade Summit, www.serverbladesummit.com (which will take place March 9 to 11 in San Jose). But blade servers pose some new and old storage challenges. For more information, read the second part of Alex Gorbansky's "Blade servers and storage implications" in this issue (see p. 38). Alex is an analyst with The Taneja Group consulting firm.
Tape vs. tape
Our monthly Lab Review pits two midrange tape drives against each other: LTO and SuperDLT. Strategic Communications' Jack Fegreus conducted the testing. In previous shoot-outs, LTO had the upper hand, at least from a performance standpoint, but in this round an SDLT 600 drive set the performance bar.
However, users should be aware that the battle of so-called "super tape" formats (LTO, SDLT, and AIT/SAIT) is a classic leapfrog contest where capacity/performance/cost superiority is a fleeting marketing opportunity. Whichever format fits your requirements will depend largely on when you need to make your tape purchases and, more likely, what format you're currently using.
In our monthly column from the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), Brandon Hoff provides tips for ensuring storage network security. Fun facts: 77% of IT security attacks last year came from within the organization (according to a CSI/FBI survey), yet 75% of companies do not have a documented storage security strategy (according to a McData end-user survey).