End-User Storage Uncovers Surprises

Evans Research Corporation surveyed Canadian storage end-users in May of this year. The survey sought to measure storage networking adoption, storage purchase intentions and data recovery service usage.

Over 300 responses to the survey were received. The respondents were mostly IT specialists

or managers, but there was representation from senior management and administrative support functions such as purchasing and accounting. The survey elicited responses from a broad cross-section of business sizes and types, with a wide diversity of IT environments from simple to complex. Hence, the results are representative of the Canadian storage market.

There were some surprises in the responses for storage networking adoption. It was assumed that NAS (Network Attached Storage) would have a much higher penetration rate than SAN (Storage Area Network). This was not the case however. Only 37 per cent of users had installed a NAS, while 55 per cent had a SAN. Having a NAS installed had no impact on SAN adoption.


The vast majority of the SANs installed were based on Fibre Channel rather than Ethernet/iSCSI. The capacity threshold for SAN adoption was around the 5 TB level. Users with less than this amount of capacity were much less likely to have installed a SAN than were users with storage capacities in excess of 5TB.

Of those that had not installed a SAN, the major barrier to adoption was budget. Dollars per se are not the real issue however, as many users fail to see the benefits of a SAN for their organizations. Considering that the majority of these respondents had less than 5 TB of total capacity, it may be true that the costs of storage networking technology outweigh the benefits at this time. Vendors need to offer more compelling cost/benefit analysis to entice these users to adopt.

There were several unexpected rankings in the listing of vendors. The incumbent storage vendors (IBM, Compaq, Sun and HP), were cited much more frequently than storage specialists such as EMC and StorageTek. Brocade is clearly the brand that is top of mind for SAN infrastructure. The pure NAS vendors such as Maxtor and Snap fared relatively poorly, which is not surprising given the low incidence of NAS installations in the sample. Most respondents indicated they had a heterogeneous environment, with equipment from multiple vendors.

Only a very small number of users reported that they were satisfied with their current storage infrastructure. When respondents were asked what was their most critical storage issue, storage management was clearly the most pressing. Keeping up with user demand was virtually tied with backup windows as the second most critical storage issue.

When asked what they intended to purchase to help them cope with their storage issues, tape drives were the most common response. Giving the shrinking tape drive shipments over the last year, this is very surprising. SAN hardware and software also ranked highly on the intent to purchase, even higher than NAS or simple RAID racks. Less than one-quarter of respondents planned to install a NAS to cope with their storage issues.

Participants indicated that they intended to purchase mostly from the storage vendors, rather than through a reseller or systems integrator. Incumbents have a clear advantage in these transactions, as a prior relationship was the most cited factor for vendor selection. The classic server vendors enjoyed the top mind share with respondents, as IBM and Compaq were the most commonly noted vendors.


Jennifer Ewen is a Senior Market Analyst with Evans Research Corporation (ERC). She covers the Canadian storage market for ERC.

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