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6. Don't Skimp On Storage: Even when the economy is down, the amount of data a company stores continues to increase.
As a result, data center storage was the No. 2 technology expected to show growth, second only to virtualization, according to surveyed solution providers.
The push towards a more virtualized data center has helped keep storage at the center of solution providers' business, said Marty Lantz, vice president of operations at MapleTronics, a Goshen, Ind.-based solution provider that also acts as an Internet service provider, managed services provider and hosted data center for its clients.
"Storage has become the core of the entire virtualization movement," Lantz said. "The last two years have seen clients move from direct-attach storage to SANs because of server virtualization."
Disaster recovery is another huge opportunity, Lantz said. Customers are starting to co-locate equipment in MapleTronics' data center and use a variety of different technologies to replicate data there.
"It's probably the hottest market we have going now," Lantz said. "Customers are looking to replicate to our end, and push the disaster recovery part to us. We weren't originally selling or creating an off-site disaster recovery solution, but instead were selling FalconStor and VMware as part of an off-site replication solution."
Solution provider Chi has seen the market for virtual tape libraries (VTL), which are disk-based appliances that take the place of tape, skyrocket, said Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at the Cleveland-based company.
Instead of the normal one or two VTL sales per year, Chi is already involved in five deals this year worth $500,000 to $1 million each, Knieriemen said.
"Customers are typically financial companies," he said. "The irony is they're laying off their IT staff, but they still need faster, better backups. They know that backups impede performance, and that data growth is not going to stop because IT budgets fall."
7. Keep Cool: Solution providers ranked power and cooling as the No. 3 challenge facing data center customers, an issue that only stands to gain more attention as the green technology movement gathers momentum and brings efficiency concerns to the forefront.
Power and cooling technology can be a profitable differentiator for data center solution providers, Solid Networks' Alfrey said.
"To be blunt, power and cooling can be very good financially to solution providers when it's done based on energy savings and not just on trying to cool equipment," he said. "Bringing in the traditional UPS, and traditional power and cooling technology won't create very much money. But if you bring in highly efficient new technologies, clients are going to be willing to pay for that value."