E-mail management tops users’ priority list

By Dave Simpson

In the latest end-user survey on storage management conducted by TheInfoPro (TIP) research firm, e-mail management came out on top of the “Technology Heat Index” ranking, which weights technologies based on users’ adoption plans and the relative amount of spending (see figure). The bi-annual survey was based on extensive interviews with 153 storage professionals, mostly in Fortune 1000 companies.

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In the previous TIP survey on storage management, conducted six months ago, e-mail management was fifth on the list with an 81 ranking in the Technology Heat Index (versus first with a 100 score in the most recent survey). Ken Male, CEO and founder of TheInfoPro, says that the rise of e-mail management is attributable to the explosive growth in e-mail capacities, the increasingly “mission-critical” status of e-mail, and regulatory compliance. (The score rankings indicate relative demand for a particular technology and are not percentages.)

Not surprisingly, disk-to-disk backup/recovery ranked number two in the TIP survey, with hierarchical storage management (HSM), followed by information life-cycle management (ILM), storage resource management (SRM), and storage virtualization software. (For more information on virtualization, see “Virtualization activity picks up,” right.)

TIP’s Male notes that all of the storage management technologies clustered at the top of users’ spending priority lists are interrelated, and that one of the dominant themes that emerged from the survey is the trend toward tiered storage, which can encompass disk-based backup, HSM, ILM, SRM, and virtualization.

Compliance issues are also driving end-user spending on storage management. When asked which technologies they plan to implement to comply with government regulations, users in the TIP survey cited content-addressable storage (CAS) most often (about 32% of the respondents), followed by archiving (21%), and e-mail archiving (12%).

Somewhat surprisingly, some of the “hot” emerging technologies are not so hot for users, including wide area file services, or WAFS (see “FineGround joins WAFS pack,” p. 18), thin provisioning, continuous data protection (see “Early adopters praise CDP,” p. 10), and global file systems.

Male notes that in some cases, such as WAFS, relatively low interest may be due to users not being familiar with the terminology. WAFS, for example, is a term that was coined last year and there are only five vendors in the field, most of which are relatively unknown. (In addition to Cisco, WAFS vendors include DiskSites, FineGround, Riverbed, and Tacit Networks.)

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TheInfoPro also produces a “storage management adoption index,” which is based on the same data as the Heat Index but uses different weights to focus on current usage patterns of various storage management technologies (see figure, above). For example, the weight for “in use” is 3.0; “in near-term plan,” 1.0; and “in long-term plan,” 0.5. Again, technologies such as SRM, disk-based backup, and e-mail management tools ranked high on users’ lists, although technologies such as HSM, virtualization, and ILM ranked relatively low.

Male says that in the context of tiered storage and technologies such as disk-based backup/recovery, HSM, ILM, and SRM, users’ biggest “pain point” centers on manual movement of data between storage tiers and the inability to automatically move data between tiers. This indicates the need for automated data movement tools, such as HSM and policy engines, according to Male.

“HSM has steadily been on the rise because the biggest end-user pain point we identified in this survey was users’ inability to seamlessly move data between storage tiers,” says Male. In the TIP survey conducted six months ago, HSM had a Technology Heat Index score of 66 versus a score of 91 in the most recent survey.

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In terms of near-term plans (to be implemented in 2005), technologies such as disk-based backup/recovery, e-mail management tools, HSM, virtualization, and ILM ranked high on users’ lists (see figure, above). Ranking low on the list (“not in plan”) were thin provisioning, WAFS, global file systems, and wire-speed encryption and authentication software.

For more information about the survey, etc., go to www.TheInfoPro.net.

This article was originally published on May 01, 2005