TIP turns up the heat

We’ve said it before, but TheInfoPro’s surveys are the most comprehensive end-user research we’ve seen. The hardest thing about writing articles summarizing these reports is that out of hundreds of pages we pull out hundreds of possible topics. This month, we chose to focus on the “Technology Heat Index” portion of TIP’s most recent storage management report (we’ll cover the storage networking report in the next issue), which measures the relative end-user interest in various technologies (see cover).

IT storage professionals like the TIP reports because they provide a lot of insight into what their peers are doing-or not doing-with various technologies. The vendor community likes the reports because they provide a realistic view of what end users think about virtually all storage technologies, as well as users’ purchasing plans. Trade press editors like the reports because they show us what’s hot and what’s not, which enables us to tailor our editorial coverage to what the end-user and integrator communities are actually interested in (as opposed to what the vendors tell us they’re interested in).

One thing that surprised me in the report was the popularity of hierarchical storage management (HSM). HSM gathered dust over the last decade due to technology issues, and therefore got little press coverage, but the TIP survey shows an almost meteoric rise in end users’ interest in (and plans to purchase) HSM software. In fact, HSM ranked number two among 19 technologies in TIP’s storage management Technolgy Heat Index (see cover chart).

HSM is becoming the software foundation underneath the first stepping-stones to information life-cycle management (ILM)-a tiered storage infrastructure. It’s one thing-and relatively easy-to build storage hardware tiers, but you also need software to grease the wheels of data movement through the tiers. And that’s where HSM and other data movement tools come into play. According to the TIP report, one of the biggest “pain points” cited by users is the inability to seamlessly (automatically) move data between storage tiers.

Conversely, the TIP reports also show that technologies that seem hot often aren’t-at least not yet. That seems to be true of technologies such as wide area file services, thin provisioning, continuous data protection (CDP), and global file systems. All of these technologies are clearly advantageous for users, but it’s just too early for those technologies to register as priority items on users’ wish lists.

In any case, storage-specific trade shows are a good place to learn about these technologies and to kick the tires. For those of you who have fully recuperated from last month’s Storage Networking World, take note that the Storage World Conference is right around the corner: June 7-9 in sunny Long Beach, CA.

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Dave Simpson

This article was originally published on May 01, 2005