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Plasmon: Archive Market Demonstrates Rapid Growth

November 2007 by PLASMON

Over the last year, there has been increasing customer interest in archival storage. IT professionals are much better educated on archive strategies in general and have a more thorough understanding of their own specific business requirements.

On the opening day of Storage Networking World in Frankfurt (29th October 2007), Carla Arend from the analyst group IDC presented research results for the software storage industry. IDC divided the storage software market into six categories including “Archival & HSM”. With a growth rate of more than 30%, archive software was the fastest growing application category in Europe over the last 12 months. The IDC research confirms the growth in the market that vendors, and channel providers have been experiencing over the last year.

What lies behind this growing market interest in archival storage? Our experience suggests that there is no single issue behind this emerging trend, but a combination of at least five factors coming together to stimulate European market growth for archival storage.

Compliance Matures in Europe

We have heard a great deal about compliance over the last several years. The influence of industry regulations has been more gradual in Europe than in the US. However, European regulations are now developing the teeth they need to persuade organisations to take them seriously.

To illustrate this there have been recent court cases in both the UK and Germany where steep fines have been imposed when the process controlling the records and the integrity of data was found to be inadequate. This shift in risk exposure is forcing European companies to rethink their digital archive requirements.

Archiving Hits the Data Centre

Historically, digital archives were deployed at a departmental or project level. Today CIOs are pulling these distributed archives back into the data centre. This is partially due to increased concerns about compliance, but there is a broader trend for IT professionals to take on greater responsibility for corporate objectives; not just the operation of technology assets. As such, the management of archive data becomes very strategic to the overall success of the business so must be owned centrally from the data centre. This change in responsibility has raised the profile of archival storage, improved education on the subject, and enabled greater funding for archive deployment.

“Cheap” SATA Drives Hit the Wall

Inexpensive and high capacity SATA disk drives have now been with us for more than five years. For many companies these drives were seen as a panacea to take on the relentless demand for greater storage capacity. As storage needs increase, they simply add more SATA systems into their environment. This worked reasonably well for a while, but the hidden overhead of these systems have swamped the administrative and financial resources of some data centres.

In the context of long-term archiving, SATA disk is proving to be very expensive indeed. SATA disk systems must be frequently replaced (3-4 years), they add greatly to the backup burden and consume huge amounts of power for data that is infrequently accessed. In addition, dumping data onto a SATA disk archive does nothing to optimise the use of limited storage resources and does not provide the authenticity and longevity essential for compliance and risk management.

Many companies now realise that they can’t simply continue to add more SATA disk and the associated backup resource into their data centres. The only way to break the cycle is to introduce better data management so they can offload archive data from spinning disk to a more appropriate, dedicated archival solution.

Electricity Costs Rise Rapidly

With the cost of electricity rising rapidly in Europe, reducing power consumption in the data centre is becoming a real concern for many CIOs. A recent survey conducted by Plasmon together with the research group Vanson Bourne clearly showed that a large, and growing number of IT directors are now responsible for reducing power consumption and implementing carbon reduction programmes.

Given the long-term nature of an archive, storage vendors providing energy-efficient solutions to the archive market are able to offer IT directors a tremendous opportunity to reduce electricity consumption in the data centre. Archive data can be moved off power-hungry magnetic disks onto alternative technologies. These low-power alternatives can save organisations thousands of pounds every year in electricity bills, while also reducing their carbon footprint.

Given the financial and business consequences of unchecked power consumption, the “green” power reduction message is not just hype and this issue will only grow in importance over the coming years.

Archiving Solutions are Simpler to Deploy and More Feature Rich

In the past, deploying an archive solution could be complex, involving multiple vendors with software, servers and libraries. Over time, the sophistication of archive products has evolved, delivering solutions that are functionally rich and simple to install and manage. It is now far easier for a company to roll out an archive strategy that meets both their business requirements and technical constraints. As this barrier comes down, more companies are able to deploy successful archive solutions.

IDC’s European market research has confirmed that the archive software segment is growing rapidly. We believe that this is being driven by a combination of factors. Companies accept the need to establish a compliant archive that will meet their evolving business needs, and vendors are responding with feature rich products that are simpler to install and manage. At the same time, increasing electricity costs are forcing IT directors to look for alternatives to their power hungry and resource intensive SATA disk storage systems. Digital archiving is not new, but there is a new maturity within organisations across the market. In growing numbers, European companies recognise that now is the time to deploy an archive solution.

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