By Dave Simpson
User awareness of, and willingness to implement, storage area networks (SANs) has come a long way in the last year. For example, in an early-1999 survey of 50 IT managers at sites with an average of more than 3.8TB, more than half were not familiar with SANs, while 20% were "somewhat familiar" but had no implementation plans. The remaining 20% planned to install SANs within the next two years.
However, a recent poll of 300 IT executives, conducted by Informationweek Research, showed that about 50% of the sites planned to install a SAN this year. And a survey conducted by International Data Group shows that IT administrators are becoming very savvy about the potential benefits of SANs (see figure).
In a survey of 216 IT professionals, better disaster recovery was the most important potential benefit of SANs.
For example, in the IDG study, which surveyed IT managers and staff at 216 U.S. corporations, 89% of the respondents believed SANs will offer improved manageability of data growth, as well as an easier way to expand storage capacity. The vast majority (87%) said that SANs will improve data sharing and data access, while 84% thought that SANs could improve performance and 82% believed that SANs will aid in disaster recovery. In the IDG survey, 45% of the companies are considering deploying SANs, as opposed to 32% polled just three months earlier.
Other benefits of SANs cited by the survey respondents included centralized control of data (89%), improved administra- tion (82%), lower costs (77%), and better leveraging of existing server and storage investments (76%).
It's important to note that the IDG survey was heavy on the manufacturing industry (40% of the surveyed companies), followed by finance/accounting (15%); health/medical (12%); transportation/utilities, insurance/legal and real estate (6%); and retail/wholesale and construction/ engineering (5%).
Despite improved awareness and plans to deploy SANs, users still cite lack of interoperability and management, as well as implementation costs, as impediments.