A caveat about user surveys

In the first of the two articles that make up our Special Report on iSCSI in this issue (see iSCSI goes beyond SMBs and Windows,” p. 22), we present a number of pie charts that show the changing pace of our readers’ adoption plans for iSCSI over the last few years. However, it’s important to note that these survey results reflect InfoStor’s readers, not IT users in general.

For example, according to our most recent iSCSI survey, 32% of our readers say they have already adopted iSCSI. Obviously, this does not reflect iSCSI adoption in the mainstream IT arena. The adoption rate of technologies such as iSCSI is inflated in the case of InfoStor’s surveys because our readers are all 100% involved in storage. As such, many are storage fanatics who represent the leading, or bleeding, edge in terms of adoption of virtually any new storage technology (although iSCSI hardly qualifies as “new” anymore). A survey across the readership of a more general IT publication would probably indicate that penetration of iSCSI is still in the single digits in terms of the percentage of sites that have deployed iSCSI SANs.

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Another reason for the skew in InfoStor’s surveys is that almost half of our readers are in the channel (primarily VARs and integrators), as opposed to being end users. And, like bleeding-edge users, channel professionals are much more likely to kick the tires on new technologies at a relatively early market stage.

This caveat also holds true with regard to some surveys conducted by research firms. For example, the second article in our Special Report (see “iSCSI breaks through all market tiers,” p. 30) is based on an iSCSI survey conducted by Peripheral Concepts. This survey involved IT managers “having storage management or data-protection responsibilities for IT operations”-in other words, storage specialists, not general IT managers.

In Peripheral Concepts’ initial screening survey (which had more than 4,000 respondents), 37% of the sites said they have already implemented iSCSI-a similar percentage as in the InfoStor poll. However, one thing that struck me as strange in the Peripheral Concepts’ survey was that in the initial screening survey 28% weren’t sure what iSCSI is, and 18% knew what it is, but weren’t sure if their company had implemented it.

Peripheral Concepts’ president Farid Neema offers this possible explanation: “Not all of the survey respondents were storage managers; many were administrators, and it’s not surprising that an admin who is responsible for, say, data protection or backup, never heard of iSCSI.”

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In any case, it’s important to know who was surveyed before you draw generalized conclusions from survey results.

This article was originally published on March 01, 2007