The Decade of Storage?

First
it was LAN. Then WAN. Now it could be storage area networks, or
simply SAN. The concept of network storage, existing from the punch
card days, is just beginning to crystallize into a mature technology.

Relevance
to India?

"Good sense prevails in all markets. Indian markets will follow
the same trend of SAN acceptance," explains Khan. "The
only difference in near future would be that the quantum of shift
will be more evolutionary than revolutionary, and will be commensurate
with Indian spending in other markets," he adds. But actually,
the market’s awareness and data dependence is so critical that India
has been showing signs of a matured market in the storage segment.
"While the server connect-rate to backup in the US is 83%,
and that of APAC is 33%, India has an amazing 70%," points
out Princy. The market for storage itself is growing at a CAGR of
above 30% in the network backup devices segment and industry sources
estimate the Indian storage market to touch $60 million for 1999-2000.

The
growth engine for the network storage market are areas such as banking,
finance and data centers, where the data itself is the life line
for the organization. That is the reason why National Securities
Depositories Ltd and the Bombay Stock exchange (BSE) have already
gone in for SAN implementation, while at least half a dozen companies
in India are in the process of implementing SAN. There are several
other companies that are evaluating the benefits of implementing
SAN for competitive advantage. For instance, the Corporate IT department
at Crompton Greaves, which manages its four strategic business units
(SBU), namely, Industrial, Power, Consumer and Digital SBUs. The
company presently has a decentralized data accumulation and a central
processing of all the data at the Corporate IT center in Mumbai.
The data gathered across 70 locations in India in functions such
as sales, accounting and IT travels in physical or electronic format
to the Corporate IT department where processing and backup is undertaken.
Says M Topiwalla, Senior EDP Manager, Crompton Greaves, "Sooner
or later, we have to go in for network storage. But we are in the
midst of implementing SAP across different divisions and SAN will
be undertaken only after that goes live." The company is evaluating
the benefits of implementing SAN across the enterprise.

Justifying
costs

On the other hand, there are those who are still looking at the
cost-justification factor. Typically a SAN implementation can cost
anywhere between a few lakh to a few crore, depending on the capacity
of data, class of servers and their placement on a network, not
to mention the business application. "We are looking at SAN
very closely from a worldwide perspective. Being consultants, we
are also configuring SAN for several companies in India and wish
we could implement one for our internal purposes.

But
the cost justification still does not warrant an implementation,"
says Anatha Krishnan, Senior Consultant, Tata Consultancy Services.
"If anything the Indian market is better suited to gain the
advantages of SAN technologies. The reason being that these are
mostly available on Unix and Windows platforms, and is in fact unifying
the twin juggernauts of the industry," explains Khan. Indian
enterprises, are considering the technology options for gaining
an edge over competitors. "Nevertheless, with the network storage
technologies still in their infancy, there is some amount of confusion
between SAN and NAS in the lower and mid end of the market,"
states Saha. HP, IBM and Compaq are getting their strategies in
place to attack this huge market for SAN and network storage technologies
in a big way. With all the promises and challenges ahead to make
the dream of an open SAN come true, the next decade, could very
well be the ‘decade of storage’.

AKILA
SUBRAMANIAM

in Chennai

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