Gartner's data protection predictions

Gartner's lead global storage researcher Philip Sargeant says organisations will soon find themselves buying a new class of storage management tools, as they acquire several point solutions to improve data management and focus on recovery instead of backup.

Storage administrators will soon find themselves offered a new category of storage management tool that provides a holistic view of other storage management products' operations, according to Gartner's lead global storage researcher Philip Sargeant.

Speaking at the firm's Infrastructure, Operations and Data Centre Summit in Sydney, Sargeant said that data deduplication, replication, continuous data protection and virtual tape libraries all have roles to play in easing storage managers' administration workloads, but that none is a silver bullet. He therefore expects most organisations to acquire a mixture of some or all of these tools, with storage management environments further complicated by the relative immaturity of some tools.

"Data deduplication will be a standalone prod for two or three years, but after time we will find it is folded into management solutions. So do you buy deduplication now and gor for fast return on investment or wait?"

Sargeant advocates the former. "It [deduplication] is certainly worth doing it and you should be on the bandwagon," but should design projects for rapid return on investment rather than committing to longer payoffs as advances in the field make long-term planning redundant. Instead, organisations should focus on how new tools impact recovery, as Sargeant feels backup is largely a solved problem. Restoring data and putting it back to work quickly, he said, is therefore the main challenge for organisations today.

Other looming trends in storage management tools include greater emphasis on tools to backup virtual servers, compression and replication. Sargeant said storage software vendors are currently placing greater emphasis on developing these features than others.

Yet even as storage software vendors add new functions, Sargeant believes a new class of meta-management tools will emerge to give storage administrators an holistic view of a data protection regime, rather than just the ability to manage a single product or data protection process. These tools, he added, will likely come from current storage software market leaders (Sargeant said Symantec, IBM, EMC and CA hold respectively hold 37%, 19%, 10% and 9% of the market, with HP, CommVault and BMC at 5%, 5% and 4%). In-house development will account for some of these new suites, but he also expects startups to enter the market and, in some cases, be acquired to fuel large vendors' need for the new type of management tool.

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