Long-haul optical transport common between data centers
Today businesses are not only creating more information than ever before but they are also moving more information. Gone are the days of the single data center and sending tapes off-site. Business demands quick movement of data between centers and complete system fail-over to remote centers to eliminate downtime has become common. In the past only the largest companies with large IT budgets and significant impact due to downtime invested in data movement between data center, but today almost every company has multiple sites with data movement requirement between sites.
Optical technology today and in the future will allow businesses to simplify their overall network. Outside the data center, the business can use an optical platform to aggregate networks, increase bandwidth, and reduce complexity. Also, once a single optical network is in place the company can monitor and manage a single platform.
Storage utility will gain ground
As storage requirements continue to grow (50-100% per year), the enterprise is constantly looking for new ways to accommodate business units requiring this storage. Storage is certainly becoming cheaper, smaller and faster but how to construct a usable storage infrastructure remains a complex task.
There are many options. Large enterprises might have the staff and expertise in-house to build, monitor, and manage their storage environment, but many do not. For those that do not there are yet more options: The storage service provider (SSP) model can either augment, or completely replace storage staff. The storage can either be placed at the enterprise site where security and speed are most important to the "disk-on-a-string" model where the storage is located at a secure site many miles from the enterprise end-user.
Another model that is gaining acceptance is the storage utility. A storage utility combines the best of both models listed above. Simply put, a Storage Utility (SU) is an internal SSP monitored and managed by existing staff with storage and backup assets at the enterprise site. With this model, the enterprise is able to leverage its existing staff, and a monitoring and management model that has all the benefits of outsourcing. The key to the SU model is building an efficient and flexible architecture that is cheaper, better, and faster than the business units could provide on their own.
Further out on the horizon, self-managed storage will emerge. Already this is happening on software, hardware and appliance platforms. Virtualization, management tools are good, but automation will make them great. And the only way to do this real-time is to remove the human storage management. Thus: self-managed storage.
The software tools will evolve above current HSM, monitoring tools, and reactive management tools. Work by Veritas, BMC and others have already made significant progress with intelligent agents and virtualization.
The hardware vendors are not standing still either. This year, more intelligence will be driven to the hardware platform by EMC, HDS and Sun. By having the logic at the hardware layer, self-management can be faster and more reliable.
Another interesting area is the appliance: A combination of hardware and pre-loaded software that sits between the system and storage. A number of different companies are working on this platform. Look for one to launch an all-in-one management appliance in the future.
This was first published in January 2002