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For 2003, I predict the following:
We all know that storage networks are becoming or have become complex. Storage complexity increases management complexity. Management complexity causes the need for increased automation of software, more skilled IT staff and slows deployment. While many companies are trying to reduce complexity, I predict that senior IT management will push back on business units and deploy more consolidated storage networks. The key is simplification. Instead of dedicated servers, fabrics and storage, tiers of service will be available to the business units. Sound like a storage utility? While the physical manifestation will look like a storage utility, it is really more of an evolution in the way of thinking about building storage networks. Too many IT organizations are struggling with a network that "works." Next year and forward, storage architects will not only build what works, but what can be maintained.
True IP SAN
Up until now, only in rare cases I have just seen IP SAN technology used primarily for data replication and extended distance solutions. The IP SAN was used in situations where there was not an easy fibre channel solution. This is changing rapidly before us and will become standard practice by the end of the next year.
The appeal of the IP SAN continues to gain acceptance for many good reasons:
- IP networking is tools-rich
- Ethernet is a well-understood technology
- Higher-level protocols are advancing to a connection-based level of functionality
- There are more people available with IP backgrounds
Cisco is leading this charge from a hardware perspective, but Brocade and McData will not stand still. Mixing of IP and FC within the storage directors will continue and become commonplace.
So the question will change from "Brocade or McData?" to "IP or Fibre Channel?" This area will be interesting to watch.
NAS for the masses
Another trend, and not a new one, that I predict will increase is NAS. NAS has morphed and evolved from the simple file server to a more robust generalized solution for IT environments. Block and file systems continue to mature and gain acceptance to solve problems where before IT had to make a choice. With the best of both worlds (block and file), advanced functionality, TCP off-load engines (TOE) and ease of alignment of storage quality of service with business objective, NAS will be grow at an accelerated rate.
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