I haven't talked about the downturn at all, because, well, a) it is just depressing, and b) there doesn't seem to be much point. However, I did see an interesting article over at Search Storage that mentions that backup is the last service likely to be touched or impacted negatively by spending cuts.
I guess that is good news for those of us that have specialized in the area. Anecdotally, I can vouch that I have been no less busy for the last couple of quarters than I have been in previous years during year end. If anybody has any experiences to share in that regard, please post up. It would be interesting to build a picture of our backup and recovery industry from participants that would show how much (or how little) the current economic slowdown is impacting us.
My belief is that backup is at one end of a continuum for performance; the other end is SRDF and other very powerful synchronous replication technologies. Depending on your SLAs, business requirements, budget, and so on, you may end up at various points along that continuum. And it is not necessarily exclusive either--if you have SRDF you will still need backup. In fact, pretty much any technology on the continuum before backup--including replication, snap shots, BCVs, CDP, and so on--also require that you have backup too. So while these other technologies may face closer scrutiny of the business case and the requirement, I think backup, as a sort of lowest common denominator for data protection, will still be mandatory.
What does happen however, in my opinion, is that organizations are more willing to consider different solutions to the backup problem that enable them to reduce costs. Let me put that another way: the economic downturn will actually incent people to give more serious consideration to technologies like deduplication than they might in ordinary times.
The other interesting component of the story in Search Storage is another look at the disk vs. tape debate. The debate largely seems to be resolving itself: disk for short to medium term backup, tape for long term backup, and disk or tape for archive. Actually, I think it is the latter where the biggest questions remain to be answered (or the most sceptics convinced). I can show a pretty good case for the value of disk rather than tape for archive in most situations, but it also definitely requires more dialogue with a user than does the discussion of disk or tape for backup.
As an interesting aside: the only justification I have seen lately that said tape is unequivocally less came from somebody that had $2m worth of tape given to them (free) by Sun. I think all he really convinced me of is that free is less than not free.