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Storage Challenges

 The Impact Of Server Virtualization

The impact of server virtualization on storage is often masked, Toigo said. For instance, IDC last year estimated that there were 11 exabytes of storage worldwide, and that it would grow 30 percent to 40 percent annually to reach 46 exabytes by 2014.

However, IDC this year revised the estimation, saying growth would be about 300 percent in companies with heavily virtualized environments, bringing the total to 168 exabytes in 2014. That was followed by Gartner, which estimated that storage in virtualized environments would lead to a 650 percent growth in storage to 202 exabytes by 2014. Toigo said the storage industry has adopted a "Disk Everywhere" dogma, with businesses adopting disk-to-disk backups and a penchant for storing more and more data as files rather than as blocks, both of which unnecessarily increase the amount of data stored on hard disks.

"So we're seeing the amount of space used for file storage increasing almost exponentially, and we see the amount of disk storage being used to replicate disk storage also increasing exponentially," he said.

So why is that an issue?

Toigo said data used to be stored in a nice hierarchy of different media: frequently accessed data on fast disks or SSDs; less accessed data on high-capacity, low-cost disks; and seldom or never accessed data on low-cost tape, optical disc or similar technologies. Today, however, customers are buying tiered storage arrays where data sits on multiple types of storage media within one device, governed by an algorithm that uses how often that data is accessed to determine on which class of disk it should be stored. This, combined with the use of deduplication or MAID (massive arrays of idle disks) technologies to store seldom accessed data, increases the amount of data stored on disk and unnecessarily increasing storage costs, he said.

"This is part of the disk-everything mentality that's worked out really well for hardware vendors," he said. "But I don't know that it's done a great deal of good for consumers." He cited an Info-Tech Research Group report, which stated that 2011 adoption of cloud storage was 326 percent higher than in 2010. "That sounds pretty remarkable," he said. "That sounds like storage clouds are high and to the right, and their owners all have to wear shades because their futures are so bright." However, Toigo said, the study's fine print showed that 51 percent of respondents said no cloud storage meets their business requirements; 70 percent are concerned about cloud storage service availability; 84 percent are concerned about cloud storage costs; and 83 percent are concerned about cloud storage security.

That same organization also found that 88 percent of cloud storage is being used by PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) providers for their own cloud-based servers.


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