2008: The Year of . . .

It’s customary to take a year-end look back at the key trends and technologies that shaped, or re-shaped, our industry. In storage, it’s usually difficult to zero down on one or two topics, but in the case of 2008, it was relatively easy.

In my view, two technologies dominated this year: virtualization and data de-duplication.

In the case of virtualization, I’m referring to server virtualization and its impact on storage, rather than storage virtualization per se (although the two are careening toward convergence). Server virtualization is arguably the hottest trend in the overall IT market, and virtually all storage vendors are hustling to take advantage of this trend by providing integration hooks and even brand new products that help end users maximize the benefits of server virtualization.

With Microsoft’s introduction of Hyper-V this year, which will ignite competition with VMware and other platforms, adoption of virtualization will continue to surge, and the storage implications—from HBAs to backup software—will take center stage for storage administrators in 2009.

But I’d have to give top honors for the dominant storage technology of 2008 to data de-duplication, which featured prominently in cover stories in six of our 12 issues this year (including January and December).

The rapid rise of data de-duplication is no surprise: From the end-user perspective, it’s a no-brainer. There aren’t any cogent arguments against reducing your capacity requirements and costs, particularly in these belt-tightening times.

But the thing I really like about data de-duplication is that it’s one of those technologies that show how end users win in the end. Data de-duple works against the profit motive of vendors (at least the hardware vendors) because, like thin provisioning, it enables users to significantly reduce the amount of storage space they need to buy—or at least defer purchases.

And let’s give credit to the early pioneers of data de-duplication, such as Data Domain, that gave users a technology that was so useful that they, in turn, forced the big vendors to offer a technology that in a way was not in their near-term best interests.

Happy Holidays!

Dave Simpson

This article was originally published on December 01, 2008