Primary storage purchasing plans for 2010 among European IT professionals

Learn about changes in primary storage purchasing plans among European storage professionals, including how much disk capacity they intend to buy, why they're shifting from DAS to shared storage, how many of them are planning to adopt SSD, as well as what vendors are in their favour.

UK storage professionals' primary storage preferences have changed markedly over the past two years, with deployments of SAN and multiprotocol storage increasing sharply in prevalence.

That's one of the key findings in the second section of this year's Purchasing Intentions survey, carried out in the second quarter of 2010 among 215 storage professionals representing businesses with average annual revenue of £1.3 billion.

In this second section of the 2010 survey results we look at primary storage and compare respondents' answers with previous surveys in 2008 and 2009.

The growing reliance on shared storage could be a reflection of the increased prevalence of server virtualisation (all but 18% of respondents in 2010 have virtualised servers compared with 35% in 2008), but also possibly is affected by the slightly lower number of respondents from the smallest companies.

When asked in this year's survey what kinds of SAN subsystem they currently had installed, Fibre Channel was the most common, with 51% of respondents reporting they had it deployed. That's a substantial increase on the 2008 survey results, when only 36% reported running Fibre Channel SANs.

iSCSI deployments also increased in prevalence, with 41% reporting their use in 2010 compared with 27% in 2008.

Network-attached storage (NAS) deployments seem to have reduced a little, with 58% of respondents reporting its presence compared with 67% in 2008.

Multiprotocol storage (SAN/NAS combined in a single subsystem) has gained in popularity since 2008, with 32% telling us they use it compared with 18% two years ago.

Disk capacity increased

The average amount of disk capacity UK businesses will have added in 2010 averaged 32 TB, which is up from 27 TB in 2008.

When it came to projected disk purchases for 2010, most respondents (41%) expect to have bought between 1 TB and 10 TB, and in the three years of surveys this primary storage figure has not changed much.

But, the next largest number of those questioned (26%) expect to buy between 11 TB and 50 TB. This shows a steady increase on 2009 (23%) and 2008 (18%).

Those who put their expected capacity purchases for 2010 between 51 TB and 100 TB totalled 9%, while one-tenth (10%) expect to buy more than 100 TB. Neither of those figures varies significantly from the past two years.

In 2010 most respondents (36%) have between 1 TB and 10 TB of disk installed, while 10% have more than 1 PB. A fifth (21%) of respondents have between 11 TB and 50 TB, while 11% have between 51 TB and 100 TB.

Low-end shunned for midrange, high end-subsystems

Our survey respondents seem to be moving away from low-end systems toward midrange and high-end products. That strongly hints at the need for shared storage in an environment of increased server virtualisation, with a side order of simple evolution from direct-attached storage (DAS) and increased market penetration by disk system vendors into the SME market.

Midrange disk subsystems proved to be the most popular purchases in 2010. Most users (43%) had deployed or planned to deploy Fibre Channel or iSCSI arrays such as EMC Clariion CX, HP EVA, IBM DS4000/DS6000 or equivalents this year. That figure is a small increase on the 2008 number of 37%.

Purchases of low-end arrays such as SATA or SCSI JBODs have seen a significant decrease in purchases in this year's survey, figuring in only 27% of respondents' deployments or plans -- down from 42% in 2008.

High-end primary storage products such as EMC Symmetrix, HDS USP, IBM DS8000 or equivalents featured for 18% of those questioned, up from 12% in 2008.

Additional hard drives for existing subsystems represented the biggest proportion of disk spend -- actual or planned in 2010 -- for 37% of respondents, which is down from 2008's figure of 44%, indicating that storage managers are installing new storage systems rather than focusing on building out already installed arrays.

New Fibre Channel (16%) and iSCSI (15%) arrays were almost equal in people's actual or planned spend for the year, the latter showing an increase from 11% in 2008. New NAS arrays figured in the 2010 disk subsystem spend for 12% of those questioned -- down from 16% in 2008. Multiprotocol arrays were opted for by 11% of respondents in 2010, up from a fraction more than 6% in 2008.

DAS on the way out for file storage

When asked about purchases of storage subsystems for file storage, the most popular technology is DAS; 26% of respondents said they had bought disk for that purpose or planned to in 2010. That figure, however, is down substantially from 45% in 2008.

NAS filers with internal disk proved to be the next most popular (20%) file storage purchase plan in 2010, while NAS gateways in front of Fibre Channel or iSCSI storage figured in existing deployments or plans of 14% of users. Both of those figures have increased by two to three percentage points over the past two years.

Meanwhile, 11% of users opt for file serving via file virtualisation products, and clustered NAS was the choice of 9% of those questioned.

Few have implemented solid-state disk (SSD)

Much-hyped, SSD actually shows a small rise in prevalence over the past year, but it doesn't figure into the plans of most storage users, most of whom say it's not worth the cost.

SSD is already in use with 13% of respondents in this year's survey, a figure that is up from 8.5% in 2009. Those planning to implement solid-state storage this year made up 6% of respondents, up from 2.5% in 2009, and those evaluating it rose from 25% to 30% over the past year. All of this means that more than half of this year's respondents (56%) are passing on SSD.

Of those that have already implemented solid-state storage, 69% installed it in laptop or desktop PCs, 62% had included it in storage arrays, 38% in servers and 23% are using it in a caching device in front of a storage array.

Of those with any solid-state storage installed, 46% have less than 1 TB, 23% have between 1 TB and 5 TB, 15% have between 5 TB and 10 TB, and 15% have more than 20 TB.

When those who had not implemented solid-state storage were asked why, most (48%) believe it is too expensive, 34% believe the performance of their disk systems is sufficient, 32% think solid-state storage is still too new and untested. A small number (9%) were concerned with the solid-state cell wear-out issue and 30% said they just didn't know enough about the technology right now.

Dell plummets down the disk vendor league

There's been quite some change in this year's survey of respondents' reporting of disk system vendors installed. Dell-EqualLogic is the big loser, its ranking half that of two years ago. Once again, it is possible that many users have moved to shared storage as a result of server virtualisation and that those who marked Dell as vendor of choice largely represented those with DAS as their primary storage type.

HP/LeftHand topped the list of disk system vendors that respondents had implemented or planned to in 2010 (36%). IBM is the next most popular storage vendor (27%) with Dell-EqualLogic (21%), EMC (20%) and NetApp (20%) occupying the subsequent positions. Hitachi Data Systems is the next most popular array maker (12%), with Adaptec (10%), Buffalo Technology (7%), Fujitsu (6%) and Sun/StorageTek (5%) following behind.

HP has held onto the top position over the past two years -- although slipping slightly -- registering deployment at 42% of respondents' businesses in 2008. Dell was the vendor of choice for 40% of those questioned in 2008, but today's figure is half of that. IBM rates exactly the same as two years ago while EMC (17% in 2008) and NetApp (11% in 2008) seem to be gainers, as do HDS, which is up from 3% in 2008, and Adaptec, up from 6%. Meanwhile, Sun/StorageTek's share has halved over the past two years from 10%.

How users choose a disk vendor changes

The reasons respondents choose their disk vendor have altered significantly over the past two years' surveys.

When asked why they chose the vendor they did, the key reasons cited were technical support (30%) and product features (29%). Already being a supplier of other technology to the business was the key draw for 17% of respondents, while price was the swing factor for only 14%.

That's quite a change from 2008, when the biggest factor for many primary storage buyers was that the vendor already supplied other technology to their business (28%). The move away from DAS is likely to be the driving force behind this change also. Where disk is directly attached, the server vendor will also in many cases be storage supplier too, but moving to shared storage will often cause that link to be broken.

That a vendor was market leader was significant in purchasing decisions for only 6% of those questioned in 2010.

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