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Actually, let me rephrase that. Is your job about to change again? I'm interested in hearing how the scope and scale of your job might be changing as storage networking evolves. Here's what I'm curious about: How will the spread of storage networking from core data centers into secondary data centers and the distributed environment change the way IT works?
This is what I see happening. IP SANs and SANs-in-a-can make the technology more realistic for many more applications. At the same time, blade servers are increasingly creeping into server rooms, often packaging storage and network switches into the same frame as CPU blades. And the hoofbeats you hear coming over the horizon? That's 10Gb Ethernet, which has the potential to either replace Fibre Channel or relegate it to just high-end SANs. More to the point, it has the potential to create the option for a single unified network for both data and storage traffic. Who will be the masters of that network?
So, how will IT reorganize itself to cope with these new technologies? Many of you are still fighting battles like getting root access to servers so you can manage host bus adapters. Conversely, you're not ready to let some guy who manages the WAN and the phone system start carving up LUNs on your arrays, or controlling the zoning on your switches.
Let's just say most of you are a long way from having a plan to provide comprehensive management of this newly emerging, highly virtualized infrastructure that
What do you think should be done? There's no way to go back to the '90s when Mr. LAN Manager managed anything that had a network connection. Networking, systems and storage have all become too critical, too complex and too specialized for one person to span those worlds at the admin or even middle-management level in any but the smallest shops. Let's not even mention DBAs and security specialists. What's the right way to do all of this? Where should the lines be drawn?
Tools won't solve this problem. On one side, you have framework vendors chanting "Single pane of glass!" hoping to convince CIOs that $2.5 million isn't so much for a non-revenue generating app. Then you have utilities vendors intoning "Best of breed" when what they really mean is "Best of beta." You're left to find the balance between function and integration, which is tough to do without a sensible division of labor.
Organizational dissonance is IT's own "compatibility" problem. At many shops, professional interoperability isn't 24/7. Occasionally, a wave of technological change washes over the landscape and everyone's on the same page. Perhaps that'll happen in the next few years. I happen to be very interested in how this is playing out in your shop, so drop me a line and let me know how you're coping with change.
Speaking of letting us know your thoughts, we're reconstituting our advisory board. For the first couple of years, this group of storage managers was a key part of keeping us close to your information needs. Editor Rich Castagna will be recruiting new members and reinvigorating the board. What's involved? Expect a monthly e-mail and an occasional conference call to help us keep our ear to the ground--give us your opinion on what issues we should take on and what's important about them. Interested?
This was first published in September 2005