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A turning point for storage networking: Hot Spots

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what the transformation means to storage teams
It's important to understand where your company is when considering this transformation process. Has it implemented server virtualization? Is it in production? How is it connecting the virtualized server environment to the storage? What technologies are being considered? Take this opportunity to become more relevant to the business. Think in terms of how changes in the IT environment can positively impact the company's bottom line, not just enhance the visibility of your particular domain. More specifically, the following must be considered:

Bottlenecks. Once server virtualization technologies have been deployed correctly, bringing on a new application can require only a few minutes. But how long will it take to provision the storage to support it? If the answer is measured in days or weeks, the process needs to be reviewed and new storage technologies may be required.

Who controls the newly deployed network? Typically, storage teams dictate the type of network supporting the storage environment. Looking ahead, it's easy to imagine that changing. If FCoE takes off, will the deployment of Ethernet switches be controlled by storage or networking companies? Will the storage team or the networking group have the responsibility and budget? Will companies

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need hybrid IT groups with members from both of these teams?

Do FCoE products need certification from storage vendors? Traditionally, FC switch sales are influenced by the specific vendor but controlled by storage companies. Ethernet switches, sold into the network groups, haven't needed any approvals for NAS and iSCSI implementations. With FCoE, however, the game has changed. For now, all FCoE products are undergoing testing and so-called certification by major vendors. But will this trend continue? If you've been purchasing Ethernet switches for years without requiring storage vendor approval, why start now? And questions remain as to whether or not storage vendors will even have the time or desire to test all of the solutions. Will storage vendors retain final approval or will network vendors convince customers that it's an unnecessary step? It will be important to keep an eye on this potential shift in power.

FC won't disappear overnight. Remember when open systems were going to eliminate mainframes? There are still plenty of mainframes around and you could argue that the concept of virtualization is simply open systems recognizing a great benefit of logical partitions in the mainframe world and adopting it. FC will be around for a while, but like ESCON and FICON, it may not be the fastest growing or most exciting segment to work in five to 10 years down the road.


Chart your career for change
Athletes cross train to break up the monotony of their routine and to increase their overall strength and endurance. IT shops should do the same. Begin to explore and educate yourself, but don't limit your studies to just your current responsibilities. Think about adjacent domains and always consider how a new technology will drive higher levels of service to the business.

Vendors, especially those with a convergence message, now offer classes and certification programs to become better educated on these new technologies and virtualization products. Many are offered online and don't require travel. Take advantage of any company-sponsored training to expand your knowledge base and position yourself for future growth.

In addition, go to the certifying bodies themselves, like the IEEE and T11, to learn more about the status of CEE and FCoE. Other helpful sites include the FCoE home page.

This was first published in November 2008

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