Buzzword alert: the latest word to loom from storage marketers' lexicon is utility. Following are a few ways utility is being used in storage.
Take storage utility, which usually refers to the notion of the storage service provider, or SSP, providing disk on demand, remotely or on-site. An example is Compaq's Private Storage Utility, which includes its Multivendor Storage Management program, and optionally, its Storage Capacity Package whereby Compaq installs excess storage on-site customers can use in a pay-as-you-go fashion.
Then there's the directive to "think like a utility," as some analysts put it. This idea has been gathering steam for some years, and calls for IT departments to present departments with a Chinese menu of sorts, where a manager can check off what levels of capacity, availability, quality of service, etc. that the department needs - and is willing to pay for. If the department oversteps those limits, the costs are charged back to the department.
The term utility class, meanwhile, is sometimes used interchangeably with carrier-class, referring to storage that can tolerate extreme environmental situations (sometimes expressed as NEBS certification), and deliver high rack density. Examples include Hewlett-Packard's SC10 array, or Dot Hill's SANnet products.
Last but not least, Fremont, CA-based startup 3ParData uses the term utility storage to refer to storage that is carrier-class, or supports multitenancy - the ability to effectively and securely provide storage for multiple users running multiple applications, each with potentially different workload characteristics. Other start-ups rumored to be working on utility storage include Cereva Networks, Marlborough, MA, and YottaYotta, Kirkland, WA.