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Is now the time to invest in storage automation products?

I've been hearing vendors talk about new storage automation products, but is now the time to think about purchasing? Should I wait for better offerings to come out down the road? What types of automated capabilities should I be looking for?

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So, the magic question is -- what do you want to automate? Are you considering provisioning the storage environment, or do you want to automate another task such as backup/restore, data migration from one storage array to another (as the data ages) or some other facet of storage management that is manual today?

To be clear -- I make a distinction between storage provisioning, which really provisions storage to be used AND storage automation software which automates management tasks or practices.

Every large vendor seems to be making noise about automation, but the question I think is still hanging out there is how long before I can use an automation tool to automate third-party software? The answer is there are a few startups on the cusp here, and expect larger vendors to get a clue pretty quickly and add support. Now is the time to purchase if you have a point of pain. My feeling is that a lot of folks have a lot of pain already here, especially if your staff has been cut or you are managing a lot more storage than you did 12 months ago. Labor costs remain a real expense driver in data centers, something that automation software hopefully will help with. But, if you are concerned about being too far out front, wait until the larger vendors get more advanced and continue to do what you have been doing.

This was first published in April 2003

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