It's time for a SAN reality check

No publication has been more evangelical in its support for storage area networks (SANs) than this one, but what can be perceived as hype has apparently led to unrealistic expectations regarding the rate of end-user SAN adoption. Two recent surveys may put things in a more sober perspective.

In a Computerworld survey of 160 IT executives, only 10% currently used a SAN. Another 21% planned to implement a SAN within the next year, and 28% reported SAN plans, but had no time frame for implementation. That left 41% with no plans for SANs.

Among the reasons cited for not implementing SANs, 61% said SANs were "too big" (a response I have a hard time deciphering), while 30% said SANs were too expensive and 21% said they were too risky.

In a survey of 187 IT professionals, conducted by Enterprise Management Associates and reported in InformationWeek, almost half of the respondents had no SAN plans. The results:

  • Currently using: 20%
  • Currently evaluating: 17%
  • Planning to use in the near future:= 17%
  • Not planning to implement: 46%

In answer to the question "What is interfering with your SAN rollout?" the top five responses were:

  • High-implementation cost (39%)
  • Lack of staff or resources
  • Technology immaturity
  • Lack of standards
  • Difficulty confirming need (28%)

One can assume that in both surveys the respondents represented traditional IT shops with huge legacy investments. Those companies may be the least likely SAN candidates. More likely candidates are all of the relatively young "e-companies," as well as specific markets such as video/entertainment and streaming applications.

But if SANs are to gain widespread adoption (and economies of scale), the adoption rate at traditional IT organizations will have to pick up. For now, it's best to take a realistic view of the expected rate of adoption, as evidenced in the two surveys, instead of getting wowed by component shipment figures and predictions.

Storage Networking World

There was no lack of SAN excitement at last month's Storage Networking World conference/exhibition. We highly recommend this conference to all storage administrators and integrators, primarily because it draws a large number of your colleagues. You can listen to vendors all you want, but you'll get a different perspective and insight from colleagues that have taken the SAN plunge.

For more information on upcoming conferences, visit the Storage Networking Industry Association at www.snia.org.

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Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief

This article was originally published on May 01, 2000