SAN Projections, Go Figure

SAN Projections, Go Figure

by Jon Toigo

While market analysts almost universally agree that the demand for storage area network solutions is growing dramatically, their specific projections about SAN adoption rates and future growth are not always in agreement.

The problem is that neither the analyst community nor the industry itself can agree on a definition of SANs. Some use the simple definition "networked storage" that may include storage devices in a network, storage devices attached to a network, or even storage devices accessed via a network protocol.

According to International Data Corp., SAN technology generated $1.4 billion in revenue for vendors in 1999, about 5 percent of revenue for the entire external storage market. IDC expects the SAN market share to grow to $10.8 billion in revenue, or 23 percent of the external storage market revenue, in 2003. That represents a whopping 66 percent annual growth rate.

These optimistic projections fly in the face of end-user surveys conducted by Enterprise Management Associates of Boulder, Colo., and other market analysts, which show IT professionals are still wary of entrusting current SAN technologies with critical corporate data. According to a 1999 EMA survey of 100 IT professionals, 80 percent said that they were holding off on the deployment of SANs because of numerous perceived shortcomings, including high deployment cost, lack of staff resources and expertise, and technology immaturity.

Whether the economy favors IDC's projections or the somewhat more conservative estimates of other analysts, the fact remains that the volume of data is growing in virtually every organization and that more and more storage capacity will be required to store it all. The future for storage area networks is expressed on a curve that moves up and to the right.

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