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IDC's storage winners and losers

EMC goes top in Europe, SOX goes bottom

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CeBIT 2005 EMC overtook its rivals to become the largest supplier of disk arrays in Western Europe in the last three months of 2004, as more and more storage became networked, but Europeans don't give a stuff for regulatory compliance, according to IDC analysts at the research company's annual CeBIT conference.

Eric Sheppard, IDC's European disk storage research manager, said that alongside EMC, other winners last year included Dell and NetApp, while IBM and HP both saw their market shares decline.

He said that Western Europe buys 50 per cent more Petabytes of disk storage every year, but pays slightly less for it - a decline of 0.3 per cent a year in Euros, even though a higher proportion is networked storage. "The average price of external Gigabytes is quickly approaching the price of internal Gigabytes," he added.

IDC storage systems veep Richard Villars added that SAN prices will fall further as more cheap servers get connected. He predicted that by 2008, 80 percent of the devices connected to Fibre Channel will be low-cost blade or commodity servers. "The number of Terabytes shipped in 2008 will be 500 per cent greater than in 2004," he said.

Villars lists a number of important technologies to watch: 4Gbit Fibre Channel, which is now coming onto the market; Serial Attached SCSI, both on 2.5" drives in servers and within arrays; PCI Express for faster HBAs; and 10Gig Ethernet which will finally make iSCSI competitive. He added that he sees the architecture of SANs changing, with storage management software being replaced by a kind of 'storage operating system'.

"I think it will go from today, where you have intelligent arrays capable of basic virtualisation, snapshots and so on, to having networked controllers - devices that serve as the front end for connecting all your storage," he said. "It has to be very robust, of course, because increasingly this is where you will run applications."

The first devices of this type include the HDS TagmaStore and IBM's DS8000. Villars sees the SAN dividing into two, an access SAN connecting servers to the network controller, and then another network connecting that to the storage devices.

However, IDC also reported research with end users which revealed that, despite all the talk of SANs, most networked storage is put in to host specific applications or solve specific problems.

"Two-thirds of large companies have a SAN, but that means a third don't," said Nick Bunyan, its European storage research director. "And 70 percent of small companies didn't have a SAN, most saying they saw no need or value in it." In addition, 80 percent of SAN fabrics have less than 10 servers attached, and the same proportion has under 5TB of storage.

"People still say it's easier to buy more space than use storage management software," he added. "And according to our survey, regulatory compliance is not a driver - Sarbanes-Oxley and Basle II are not influencing purchasing." ®

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