Boom Time Again

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Financial year 2007-08 was no exception to the growth in the network storage

market. The information avalanche has created so much unstructured data that SAN

and NAS became the preferred options.


According to VOICE&DATA estimates, the network storage industry has recorded

an excellent growth of 46% during FY 2007-08, with the total revenues rose up to

Rs 1,466 crore as compared to Rs 995 crore in FY 2006-07. While EMC retained its

top position with an overall growth of 51.8%, by recording a revenues of Rs 334

crore, the other top vendors included IBM, HP, NetApp, Sun Microsystems and HDS.

This kind of growth means that it is equivalent to approximately three

million times the information in all the books ever written. As per the report,

organizations including businesses of all sizes, agencies, governments, and

associations, will be responsible for the security, privacy, reliability, and

compliance of at least 85% information. What makes the situation more complex

and somewhat uncontrollable is the nature of digital information generated.

Over 95% of digital information consists of unstructured data and hence

managing storage and giving a structure to unstructured data acts as the key

growth driver.


Enterprises in India now need to store more information and more types of

information than ever before. They also need to ensure that this information is

safely retained for rapid recovery and better corporate governance. IT

executives responsible for acquiring and maintaining the storage systems that

hold all this information also face continued pressures to restrain spending and

boost operational efficiency.

Market Dynamics

From a topological perspective, NAS deployments were seen in areas where

customers needed to serve files to a large number of users simultaneously. With

the proliferation of Microsoft technologies, NAS added multi-protocol support

like Windows and UNIX for users. Experts say that NAS made the process of data

consolidation and data sharing incredibly simpler, and organizations from a

variety of industry verticals started putting more applications on NAS systems.

These also evolved in terms of performance, scalability, and availability.


With NAS becoming niche, experts say that with the market slowing down pure

play NAS players forayed into the NAS market over the year.

Meanwhile on the SAN side, what drove the market adoption was the information

growth that is largely in the database-based applications and emails, and the

nature of these applications demand fast access to storage, which can be

provided only by SAN deployments.


Experts say that there was a great boost in the mid-size market for these

applications, resulting in the highest growth for the mid-range SAN deployments.

Over the year, customers also consolidated their infrastructures and looked for

tiered storage in SAN to optimize their storage investments.

Vendors, meanwhile, agree that though customers are deploying SAN for the

above applications, they continue to prefer NAS for applications, which require

file serving and sharing. Clearly, both SAN and NAS will coexist, although NAS

deployments are likely to get further limited to deploying NAS headers in front

of SAN, thereby providing unified storage architecture.

Further, large enterprises as well as SMEs realized that the existing storage

infrastructure has to be augmented to handle the rapidly growing enterprise

data. With liberalization in various sectors, like telecom, and entry of new

players with a host of services, the customer base has grown, giving further

boost to the storage market. E-governance initiatives also generated good demand

for storage over the last year.


Industry experts also believe that there has been a lot of change over a

period of time in the enterprise's thinking and management of storage.

Organizations are moving away from application dependency to data

independence. In order for this to happen, storage must become either

application-transparent or accessible by any application according to

hierarchical requirements. To help achieve this, two basic areas become

popular-virtualization and data mobility.

Vendors in the Fray

Top vendor EMC had a spectacular year with all-round growth. EMC has grown

its portfolio of capabilities with its movement from being a pure play hardware

firm to become a complete information infrastructure company. With more than

twenty-five acquisitions, EMC is the sixth largest software company in the world

today. It was also a landmark year for EMC in India with its customer base

crossing the 1,000 mark.


EMC has all the leading telecom operators as its clients and the government

also emerged as a key vertical. Traditional verticals like BFSI and IT/ITeS also

garnered good business for EMC.

Meanwhile, HP saw strong momentum for its EVA line of networked storage

products on its Storage Works series. HP's storage offerings over the year were

aimed at more virtualization capabilities and more functionality for business

applications. Over the year, HP secured big deals with entities like LIC, NTPC,

and SBI.

Big Blue IBM, on the other hand, attacked the market with its system storage

and total storage interoperability options. With a mix and match of various

storage solutions, IBM was able to garner good traction over the year, and it

took to clients storage virtualization and consolidation that was well received.


Sun Microsystems went to the market with its slew of offerings. Its strategy

over the year has been focused on customers' expectations, and hence it took on

a very customer-centric demand approach. In tune with varying customer demands,

its products started in small configurations and scaled all the way up to

225TB-plus without requiring any replacement of headers.

Sun also leveraged Solaris 10 as the OS for NAS, thereby being able to

incorporate the benefits going forward. Over the year, Sun also started a

concept and workshop called IM3 (Information Management Maturity Model) aimed at

helping customers in not only ascertaining their maturity levels for storage

deployments but also helping them identify and align their investment in storage

as per the business requirement.

Meanwhile, NetApp signed on new customers like Tata Communications, Reliance

Communications, Infosys, Shoppers Stop, HDFC, and Hindustan Times for its

network storage offers. NetApp, over the year, promoted unified storage-SAN and

NAS-out of the same storage system.

By using a single platform for both kinds of data access, organizations can

optimize their usage of disks, use common backup and replication tools, and save

costs on storage administration. This obviously makes much more sense than

building storage “silos” and having to end up underutilizing disk space in each

silo, administering separate back-up and replication strategies for each, and

investing in more management resources.

As compared to last year, HDS India witnessed significant growth. The overall

revenue growth was higher this year with significant growth. With its Hitachi

Essential NAS Platform, it took to the market the optimized solution of file

sharing, backup, and file server consolidation, achieving central management and

increased data availability. Hitachi positioned the platform as a cost-effective

NAS solution for best-in-class availability and scalability at a low price.

Virtualization Gaining Ground

According to IDC, virtualization includes the capability of connecting

servers to logical volumes that are flexibly connected to actual physical

volumes. Virtualization helps reallocate a heterogeneous collection of storage

resources without any concern for low-level details like block size and

automated storage management functions.

Experts say that the benefits associated with virtualized storage are due to

two improvements in storage management. First, management tasks are simplified

and streamlined by underlying software automation, which enables fewer storage

managers to oversee larger pools of storage. Secondly, storage resources can be

better utilized due to improved management. Without virtualization and pooling,

storage managers over-provision storage resources to make sure that they were


Virtualized storage enables better utilization of total resources and eases

the task of migrating data among different storage assets in a multi-tiered

storage system. These benefits contribute to reduce total cost of ownership.

The Outlook

The demand for and the size of the storage market in India will keep rising

by virtue of the fact that almost all enterprises and SMEs are making efforts to

run their businesses efficiently and in real-time. Increasing awareness of the

need for disaster recovery and planning for business continuity are also driving

this market.

Looking at the year ahead, backup and recovery will continue as top

challenges for many organizations. Growing amounts of data from all areas of an

organization, coupled with the need to support a non-stop business model and

ever-smaller recovery timeframes to meet business continuity goals, makes data

protection even more challenging.

Selection of storage media is very important since it directly determines the

reliability of back-up/restore operations, speed of back-up/restore, and

searchability of the data that is backed-up. Disk-to-disk backup is acquiring

the status of the primary back-up solution, driven by shrinking backup windows

and rapid decline in the cost of SATA-based storage.

Storage experts say that from a technology choice perspective, most

organizations have a mix of online, nearline, and off-site backup requirements.

Online back-up is the most critical piece and provides the essential protection

against loss of primary data for day-to-day production applications.

Online backup is ideally facilitated by taking frequent snapshots, provided

the storage system does not degrade in performance while taking frequent


Nearline back-up is usually deployed to back-up data for an entire day or

week, depending on the frequency of change in the organization's critical data.

Offline back-up refers to disaster recovery solutions where primary data is

mirrored to another site to provide protection against site failures. Offsite

vaulting is meant to store back-ups for longer periods of time.

In the ongoing year, companies need to review their information

infrastructure and implement a strategy that would minimize risk and help them

store, manage, and protect information assets more cost effectively. From a

business perspective, companies need to focus on harnessing information as a

competitive differentiator. Key areas of interest to customers now include

tiered storage, SAN and NAS consolidation, iSCSI for low-cost IP-based SAN,

gateways, and storage virtualization.

Shrikanth G