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Storage Outlook: iSCSI Still a Year Away

iSCSI won't begin to take off until 2005, when management tools for the IP storage standard appear en masse, but companies will begin planning for it this year, according to Chuck Hollis, EMC's VP for storage platforms marketing.

"We don't think the robust tools will show up until early 2005," says Hollis. "This year will be the year for planning for iSCSI. Companies will look at it and decide what to do about it."

That was one of the predictions for the year ahead made by Hollis in a recent interview with Enterprise Storage Forum. Hollis also expects a number of other storage issues to be big this year, including Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), server virtualization, disk-based backup with ATA, NAS gateways, and long-distance replication.

Hollis says ILM – the notion that data should be stored accordingly as its value changes over time – is "the next phase of storage evolution."

ILM will begin with what Hollis calls "tactical ILM" — tiered, targeted implementations at "pain points" such as email and large databases.

The value of email, he says, "rapidly degrades after 30 seconds, until the lawyers show up," and is thus a good candidate for early ILM implementation.

For large databases, "any time you get data out that isn't critical, it's a huge win," he says.

Virtualization Will Be Big

EMC sees server virtualization as a big issue for 2004, which is hardly surprising, considering its recent acquisition of VMware.

Much has been made of server and storage virtualization, Hollis says, and while both are important, they have largely been done in isolation.

"Customers interested in storage and server virtualization will begin to ask how they will be coordinated and go together," Hollis predicts.

What sets VMware apart, and thus EMC, is its ability to offer "end-to-end virtualization," contends Hollis.

Another trend for 2004 will be the growing use of disk-based backup with ATA, Hollis predicts.

"People will start to realize 'I'm really not in love with tape as much as I thought I was,'" he says, and will begin to look at ATA-based backup and restore.

Disk-based backup will be used for data requiring rapid restore, according to Hollis, with older data moved to tape once it no longer needs to be accessed immediately.

On this issue, Hollis says EMC was a little ahead of the curve. Its ATA CLARiiON option debuted in March 2003.

Big Changes Coming for NAS

2004 will also see a major change for the network attached storage (NAS) market, Hollis says, with NAS gateways becoming dominant.

With SANs having reached "critical mass," Hollis believes customers will begin asking why NAS should be a "separate box ... Why not just a gateway on a SAN?"

The result will be a repositioning of NAS vendors as gateway vendors, he says, instead of continuing to offer separate, integrated storage.

EMC was early here too, according to Hollis. Its Celerra was always a gateway product, and could be sold either as an integrated product or as a gateway. But other vendors, including NetApp, will need to reposition themselves, he predicts.

Finally, Hollis envisions 2004 as a big year for long-distance replication.

The technology has been around for years, but has been hampered by performance problems, backlogs, and high bandwidth costs for distances beyond 40-60 km, he explains.

EMC claims it has solved the problem with its SRDF/Asynchronous product and "Delta Set" architecture that allows replication over longer distances at lower cost.

"We think long-distance replication will become a hot issue in 2004," Hollis says, particularly for high-end users such as financial services and telecom providers.

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