Reporter's notebook: Storage Decisions wrap-up

Users and analysts comment on some of the hottest topics in storage, including Microsoft DPM, data security, Symantec, ILM and iSCSI.

NEW YORK -- Storage Decisions last week brought together 550 of the country's most important storage buyers with leading industry experts to chew over what's working and what's not in a market changing faster than a speeding e-mail.

Up for discussion was Microsoft's Data Protection Manager (DPM), launched at the show; data security and Symantec Corp.; iSCSI; storage resource management (SRM); the future of Brocade Communications Systems Inc.; disaster recovery; Imation Corp.'s new disk inside a tape cartridge; and ILM, among many other topics.

Steve Duplessie, founder and analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) on Microsoft and DPM

Stories from the show

Users wrestle with SRM riddle

Brocade's future increasingly shaky, say users

DR plans hindered by poor communication

Imation readies disk inside tape

Users struggle with deletion policies  

Symantec demos bare-metal restore that works

Microsoft Data Protection Manager: Pros and cons

CDP to take center stage at Storage Decisions

Microsoft Data Protection Manager: "Is it good? Yes, it's good. But it has its limitations … You can't dump to tape or replicate off site. You can only back up Windows file servers."

ESG research conclusions: All but the smallest or nonexistent Windows shops will try -- and probably buy -- DPM at some point.

"Microsoft is a wonderful machine, isn't it? Where else in the world do we know something is probably going to suck, but we buy it anyway, then we bitch about it, but we just keep buying more of it?"

There is precedent -- SAK (Microsoft Storage Server) owns over 50% of NAS installations already. In another two years Duplessie predicts it'll have 78% market share. "That's ridiculous growth. Is it because it's a better NAS platform? God, no. It's because it's Microsoft. Deal with it."

More than 50% of users surveyed tell ESG they have more concerns about the security of a Microsoft solution than they do with other vendors. Eighty-eight percent of users say that data protection solutions should incorporate more security features. According to Duplessie, users can expect Microsoft, Symantec, Veritas Software Corp., EMC Corp./Legato, Computer Associates International Inc. and others to battle it out.

Duplessie on security

Symantec now looks like a genius -- we have to stop talking about protecting just data in flight when our crown jewel is data at rest."

Encryption for data at rest -- "Most data protection products offer it, but no one uses it because it brings your backup performance to its knees."

Users on security

During a session on data security, users voiced several questions that provide an interesting insight into how they view this issue.

"Can my vendor utilities read data off my storage -- can they get into the device without me knowing?"

"Encrypting tape on tape doubled my backup window, what can I do about this besides buying expensive appliances?"

"If legal isn't helping you, how do you make sense of regulatory information so that IT can understand what to do?"

"Key management is the biggest problem for us … we can't rotate keys, once it's encrypted on tape, you can't change that key."

iSCSI misinterpreted by the industry

A user, who declined to be named but who manages storage for a large Fortune 100 company, says iSCSI has been misinterpreted by the industry.

"The competition isn't between Fibre Channel and iSCSI," he said. "iSCSI is a gateway to my low-end boxes. It can't replace Fibre Channel in my environment -- it can only complement it. For SMBs [small and midsized businesses], it could, but not in my shop. I had a discussion with other Fortune 500 users and we're all on the same page."

"My prayer is that iSCSI will still force Fibre Channel to bring prices to a reasonable level," he said. "But that's about it."

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