SANs in Indian companies
Indian SAN market is maturing
it comes to SAN implementations, the Indian enterprise ranks at par with the
global best. A discussion with James LaLonde, Vice President, Worldwide Sales,
Brocade Communication Systems, about the latest trends in the Indian SAN scenario.
What is the current state of SAN adoption in India?
SAN adoption is happening on a major scale in India. Three
years ago, not too many enterprises knew what a SAN was, and the vendor had
to explain what it was. And it was difficult to explain the concept at that
But things changed once the CIOs learned about this technology. They started
deploying SANs very rapidly since then. What we have observed is that within
the last two years most of the top 100 enterprise IT users in India have deployed
Although Indian enterprises started later than the rest of the world, the time
between becoming aware of SANs and deployment was very rapid.
I was pleasantly surprised on my trip earlier this year. Not only are Indian
enterprises deploying SANs, but also performing quite advanced disaster recovery
solutions. Places like Chennai are becoming disaster recovery centers for other
sites. These places have very advanced infrastructures.
How is the SAN market evolving in India?
The interesting thing about the Indian SAN market is that
it is maturing fast even though it is new compared to the rest of the world.
This means that the SAN market is segmented. If you look at India, most large
enterprises are already using SANs or planning to get them. So, in the enterprise
space SANs have very good usage and market share.
Right now, the hot new SAN market is that of entry-level companies. It's interesting
to observe that the needs of the mid-range and large enterprise are quite similar.
The only difference is that the large enterprises need to develop on aspects
like higher availability, mainframe connectivity, and higher security. But the
general needs are the same.
However, at the entry level, factors like simplicity are important. So SAN vendors
are adding features like setup wizards. Other than this, factors like pricing
and packaging play an important role in selection.
Customers in the entry-level space prefer to buy a single solution for functions
like e-mail, CRM, and accounting applications. In this scenario, a SAN is more
attractive to users as a bundle. So these companies look at storage arrays,
servers, cards, and switches, all from a single vendor. This is an interesting
trend that we are witnessing in India.
A trend in the mid-range market in India and China is that entry-level bundles
and packages will also be used by companies in the mid-range space.
Blade servers are being increasingly adopted among large enterprises
now. This means that they are not necessarily entry-level strategy now. This
is where we will see new product offerings for the typical entry-level customers.
Earlier, entry-level customers would typically buy a server with storage in
it. But they get into a tight spot when they run out of space after a period
This is why they are likely to become a customer for bundled type of storage
Customers now have many vendors offering bundles with storage.
The advantage with such solutions is that the storage is fiber channel-enabled,
completely modular, and scalable. This is a very attractive proposition for
What do you think is the next thing to happen to Indian
corporate SANs considering the level of sophistication they have reached?
In the SAN market, there are two things that have to be done
on the high-end space. The first thing is that, the companies who are already
using SANs need to secure their SANs since security is becoming a big issue.
The second thing is to help these customers better manage SANs.
If you look at new requirements from SAN customers, there are many. One is the
consolidation path where it is possible to actually improve utilization of computing
resources, centralize management, and reduce the cost of ownership.
A company may choose to put SANs to do a backup chore and another SAN as infrastructure
for applications like ERP. In such cases they end up having several islands
of SANs. There are several consolidation schemes and utilization techniques
available to help them get more out of their SANs. There needs to be higher
growth in the low-end or mid-range space.
What is your opinion about new trends like Utility Computing
and Information Lifecycle Management?
Earlier, it was evangelization of SANs. At present, the popular technology is
Utility Computing and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). It is not possible
to do either without a SAN in place.
For example, there might be need for a particular data to be online and available
24x7. But those particular e-mails or records will have to be archived in less
expensive storage over time.
SANs are in the middle of both the trends. So if you are working on a SAN solution
and you have to move the data to the organization based on its applicability
and its age, you need SANs. If you need to deploy new applications or provision
storage on the fly, you need a SAN. As you can see, SANs are integral components.
This is where we see intelligence moving into the network. With intelligence
in the network it is possible to keep a mirror copy or a snapshot of the data
transparently at line speeds.
Personally, I feel that even though the Indian market has
caught up very quickly, a lot of deployment in the area of SANs happens in the
US and Europe much before it happens here. Year 2004 is going to be the time
when people are going to talk about ILM, with very early steps happening. But
till 2005, the smoke won't clear on all this. It is still a developing concept.
Anil Patrick R can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org