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Solution providers see infrastructure hardware as one of the top sales drivers in the storage market, according to the 2008 State of Technology: Storage survey.
Respondents to the survey said that infrastructure hardware like Fibre Channel switches, Ethernet switches and WAN acceleration devices are fueling growth and generating profits, and that segment shows no sign of slowing.
The number of solution providers selling Ethernet switches is much higher than those who offer SAN hardware, illustrating that IP networks are becoming an integral media to share data. While Ethernet connectivity has become the main technology driving today's enterprise networks, it's also starting to move into data center and storage as the proliferation of 10-Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet steadily increases.
Additionally, VARs surveyed say that hardware is still the dominant force for their storage revenue, with 49 percent saying it makes up the bulk of the dollars driven by storage.
VARs also see strong opportunities for infrastructure hardware in midsize businesses--described as having 500 to 999 employees--where 29 percent of VARs see the strongest growth potential. Midsize businesses are followed by large enterprises--described as 1,000 to 4,999 employees--which 24 percent of VARs say offer the greatest growth potential.
And when it comes to vendors, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. wears the crown among storage infrastructure hardware providers. Adaptec Inc., Milpitas, Calif.; Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif.; IBM Corp., White Plains, N.Y. and Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif., respectively, rounded out the top five vendor partners named as best able to meet their technology needs.
Tyler Dikman, president and CEO of CoolTronics, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider, said infrastructure hardware is becoming a necessary component in a storage VAR's arsenal because of the increasing need to back up and replicate data while also avoiding critical downtime.
"One of the biggest challenges [customers] face is dealing with any kind of downtime," Dikman said, adding that oftentimes solution providers are tapped to set up a completely separate network to enable replication and avoid the lag time that can be created running the same process over the same network channels as day-to-day traffic.
Dikman also noted that WAN acceleration solutions will also become increasingly important and has been popping up on customers' radar screens as they see increased bandwidth needs while having to manage off-site data storage, backup and replication.
ARCHIVING AND CONTENT STORAGE
If you could somehow see the ever-increasing volume of data, e-mails and electronic documents many businesses are storing today, it might look like a house bursting with junk in one of those home makeover TV shows. But it'll take more than a yard sale to get things organized.
Solution providers see data archiving, and content storage technology and services as a growth opportunity, ranking content-addressed storage, e-mail archiving and database archiving as the three technologies with the greatest value-add potential, according to Everything Channel's 2008 State of Technology: Storage survey.
Government regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA continue to drive many sales of data storage and archiving systems, said Brooks Byerly, president of Soccour Solutions LP, a Dallas-based solution provider specializing in data storage and protection, storage area networks, and backup and recovery systems.
But Byerly said the major driver today is the growing number of companies that understand they need quick access to only a small percentage of the increasingly large volumes of information they are storing. "So they're trying to be more efficient in how they store that data," he said.
That agrees with the survey's finding, in which 57 percent of the respondents pointed to the need for lower costs and/or greater efficiencies as a demand driver for storage product and service purchases. Government compliance requirements were cited by 35 percent of respondents.
Soccour resells data de-duplication systems from Data Domain Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., and Byerly expects de-duplication technology to be in great demand in 2009 given that more companies are using disks for near-line storage. Fifteen percent of survey respondents expect data de-duplication and compression products to generate the fastest sales growth during the next 12 months. And 11 percent of respondents that currently don't sell de-duplication and compression products plan to do so within a year.
Thirty percent of the survey respondents are targeting sales of archiving and content storage software to companies with 500 to 999 employees, while 26 percent are targeting businesses with 100 to 499 workers.