Storage industry limbers up for Rite of Spring
What's happening in 2009
Comment What's happening in storage in the year to come? It seems lots of big product refreshes are coming. Here's the timeline as we understand it.
In March HP will finally introduce EVA 6400 and EVA 8400 updates to the existing 6100 and 8100 models, many months after a 4400 refreshed product was applied to the previous 4100 model. Expect larger capacity drives and, just maybe, the entry of SAS interconnects into these products, currently a Fibre Channel and FATA preserve.
These HP EVA boxes are classic two-controller modular arrays aimed at the heart of the storage array market. They compete with AMS arrays from HDS, FAS 3000-s from NetApp, Clariions from EMC, and the 6000 line from Sun StorageTek. EMC has introduced a solid state drive option for its CXS4 Clariions along with multiple I/O protocol support - think FCoE.
HDS has introduced SAS drive and backplane support and 2.5-inch small form factor drives are poised to start taking over from the classic Fibre Channel 3.5-inch drives. What we might see in the coming EVA refresh is HP responding to these technology transitions - SAS, SSD, FCoE - by adding one or more of them to its new EVA models and so aiming to continue their appeal as blue chip storage arrays to its customers.
We think we know an updated Celerra is coming. But in May or June EMC will deliver its next big bang, a Symmetrix DMX5, and we can expect a lot of crowing from Hopkinton about what they call IBM's long in the tooth DS8000. This should be a major revenue-earner for EMC and we can expect an expansion of flash memory support, FCoE capability and enhanced data protection around snapshots and replication. We might also, possibly, see 2.5-inch drive trays - EMC loves to make a dramatic splash.
Around the same time Data Domain will introduce its next big de-duplicated box, a follow-on to the existing top-of-the-range DD690. We might think about 8-core Xeon processing engines and possible 2TB drives to take capacity to 96TB and de-dupe throughput to new levels.
We might also see clustering of Data Domain's boxes with a global de-duplication ability across the cluster. That would give Data Domain something to boost its revenues in the second half of the year, a pattern seen in previous Data Domain financial years.
Around the same time again we can expect NetApp to announce ONTAP 8.0, the merged 7G and 7X versions of ONTAP with clustering, global name space and more plus flash SSD-enhanced FAS arrays. NetApp customers can then scale up their NetApp installation by adding NetApp arrays and having them logically function as one single array with added protection against server box failure.
This also gives NetApp the ability to go beyond RAID-DP protection, providing survivability inside an array against a double drive failure, by providing data protection between arrays so that, potentially, a NetApp cluster can withstand the failure of a complete node with no data loss.
Sun is due to announce sundry flash-enhanced servers, but we don't have a road map for those down to particular months this year. The aim is to closely couple Sun system software with Sun read and write flash enhanced servers so that they process workloads much faster than commodity servers or proprietary ons from HP and IBM.
This is a core part of Sun's open source software story with the heart of it being dramatically lower-priced server/software and storage (controller) software combinations that eat workloads and store data like a house on fire while costing much less than competing boxes.
Then there are the Seagate SSDs which we think may be announced in the second quarter. These are toe-in-the-water products while the market develops and Seagate persuades OEMs and consumers that its SSDs are better than anyone else's. It's a tough call. Although Seagate was an investor in SanDisk we can't really say it has a substantial SSD heritage.
It will be hoping, no doubt, that its adoption of SSD technology will be more successful than analogue camera maker Kodak's adoption of digital film technology. So far digital camera Kodak threatens to be a far smaller version of film camera Kodak than its management care to contemplate. Seagate will not want to go down that route.
All these announcements, except the Seagate SSD one, will provide, or should provide, substantially more storage bangs per buck and help counter demand drops due to the recession. Think storage refreshment as a way to beat the recession blues. ®