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Storage vendors gear up for information Tsunami

Vendors and analysts alike are predicting huge growth in the storage market as e-business takes off in the region

With the Middle East yet to feel the full effects of the e-business tidal wave, the storage vendors have launched an all out offensive on the region.

With the advent of e-business companies that fail to effectively manage and store their data well face going to the wall. “The e-business Tsunami has yet to really hit the region,” says Trevor Hutson, general manager of STME, the local partner for EMC, StorageTek and Veritas. “Internet data can double in three months and enterprise data storage requirements is doubling every 12 months and quicker… storage offers a major problem for many companies.”

International research also identifies that enterprise storage solutions are going to be the key area of investment in the coming 12 months. According to Philip Dawson, an analyst with the Meta Group, up to 70% of IT spending in the coming months is going to be on storage hardware. Additionally, the storage market for e-business applications is to explode by 400% and between 100 to 200% for normal line of business applications.

With such a huge market up for grabs the traditional hardware vendors are determined wrestle a substantial slice of the market away from the likes of EMC and StorageTek. Sun Microsystems’ in particular is keen to build on its large installed base of Unix hardware in the region, touting an open standards storage philosophy to go along with its recently introduced T3 storage arrays.

“Organisations are going to demand open, heterogeneous storage solutions,” says Sun's visiting senior storage sales executive, Southern Europe, Africa & Middle East, Chris Jones. “The real value in the storage market is going to come from the services and software built around the storage solution.”

Key to Sun’s interoperability message is its Jiro initiative, which Jones sums up as “Java for storage.” For the last 18 months Sun has been campaigning to win other storage vendors to the Jiro initiative. “This is a real move to create open standards, a common interface for storage devices,” says Jones.

However, if Sun can build on its substantial hardware base and add storage solutions around it remains to be seen. Speaking to ACN, last month Gartner Group analyst, Andy Butler expressed doubts whether the Unix player could convince users of its ability to deliver heterogeneous storage solutions, particularly in light of the vendor’s singular Solaris/SPARC mantra.

Compaq started its drive into the storage market in earnest around 18 months ago when it brought in a team of technical specialists. According to Compaq’s Jeff Maslen, product marketing manager, storage products, enterprise computing, the storage market in the region is ready to explode. “This region is learning that just crossing their fingers and hoping doesn’t cut in the e-business age,” explained Maslen.

There is a mixed view on how advanced the Middle East with its storage solutions. Tevor Hutson claims that STME has installed between five and six storage area networks in the last six months. For his part Maslen doesn’t see the market as that advanced, with many organisations still going through a server consolidation process and just learning the value of cloning and snapshot software. Either way, the vendors seem to unanimously believe that IT houses will be forking out for bullet proof solutions over the next 12 months.

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