The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Europe today unveiled the results of its first End Users Advisory Board (EUAB) survey which polled over 70 small, medium and large enterprises. The SNIA is a vendor-independent, not-for-profit educational body for the promotion of networked storage in Europe,

Of the polled companies, 31 percent employed between 1,000 and 9,999 staff while almost half (44 percent) employed over 10,000; 35 percent of the respondents recorded revenues higher than 1 billion euros. The organisations that took part spanned the financial, manufacturing, government, healthcare, education and communications sectors; the majority of respondents held the roles of IT architect/engineers or IT managers/executives.

ey findings from the survey are:

· An impressive 76 percent of respondents ranked reliability as a key requirement for their storage infrastructure, followed closely by recovery and continuity at 72 percent. Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said that implementing reliability is ‘very challenging’;

· Other challenges include improving resource utilisation (63 percent), integration and consolidation of assets (66 percent);

· ILM (information lifecycle management) was seen as a requirement for 62 percent of the surveyed organisations, with 56 percent of these believing that there will be integration challenges. In the next 12 – 18 months the most likely initial steps towards implementing ILM will be separation of archival data from backup/DR data as well as email archiving;

· Compliance, which is rather tightly linked to ILM, will have a marked impact on capacity growth; 54 percent of respondents in fact believe compliance requirements will cause significant growth in their storage capacity;

· There is still work to do with regards to both information and content management and storage automation in the eyes of the surveyed organisations, with over 66 percent and 53 percent respectively saying the two technologies still need to mature;

· Encouragingly however, nearly 68 percent of respondents believe that disk-to-disk-to tape back up is ‘ready or almost ready’;

· For 46 percent of respondents increased cross-vendor support would improve SRM adoption and over half (55 percent) agree that today the best way to address complexity is through a dedicated storage team;

Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) believe that testing and installation of new equipment is still too time-consuming; 59 percent of the surveyed organisations agree that lower cost of management and maintenance would improve this issue.

End users and SNIA Europe
Charles Inches, the Chair of the SNIA Europe End User Advisory Board, said: "This survey is a very important step towards greater cooperation between vendors, integrators and end users and I am thrilled with the interest this initiative has generated at all levels. Today’s business and compliance requirements are placing new pressures on organisations to achieve demanding targets within specific guidelines and this often results in dedicated storage teams working with an array of heterogeneous and complex systems."

"Because of its independence SNIA Europe enjoys a particularly close relationship with the end user community and through our various committees and initiatives we aim to reach out to manufacturers and the channel to make them aware of their customers’ needs, expectations, priorities and pain points."

Paul Talbut, the Chairman of SNIA Europe, said: "We have been sharing the findings of this survey with all our members and are actively encouraging them to work together to address any issues end users are currently facing. To date we have got some very positive feedback on the survey from both vendors and integrators and I am confident we will see major progress in the coming months."

The SNIA Europe is the only combined end-user and vendor networked storage organisation. As such it represents a good potential channel for end-user requirements to be fed back to vendors and is a potentially very good means of getting vendor products to inter-operate effectively. It has already done sterling work with Fibre Channel SAN standards although more needs to be done.

The louder the end user voice coming through the organisation to the vendors the better. If there were a majority of end user members they would speak with a louder voice, collectively, than the vendors and could make the vendors dance more to their tune.