CHICAGO -- Calling all end-users: The push for interoperability falls squarely on your shoulders.
"As users, you need to drive interoperability in the industry, " said Enterprise Storage Group founder and senior analyst, Steve Duplessie, who addressed Storage Decisions 2001 attendees Wednesday.
Vendors, he said, will not steer toward interoperability in storage networks unless pressured by customers.
"There are no standards in Fibre Channel (host bus adapters) because it isn't in the vendors' best interest," he said. "At the end of the day, it doesn't behoove vendors to make things work together."
Duplessie asked for a show of hands from 400-plus audience members to find out who has installed a Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN). Roughly half of the audience responded affirmatively.
He then polled the audience again.
"How many of you have more than one manufacturer's switch?" he asked. This time no hands went up. A strong indication that most customers are locked into a single vendor solution when it comes to switches.
Duplessie believes that from a physical standpoint, it is nearly impossible for an end user to put a Fibre Channel SAN together and make it work. The alternative, he said, is to pick a vendor who does the whole thing for you.
"For block-level storage, a Fibre Channel SAN is the best thing that you can do," said Duplessie. "All of (these interoperability issues) are going to get better."
Ultimately, Duplessie said, the customer should not be telling all the vendors to make the same thing, but they should be demanding that the differentiators between storage products should not be in the interface -- they should be behind the scenes.
Interoperability consists of more than just making storage devices work together. It is also the answer to a question: How do I equip my storage administrator so he can handle greater magnitudes of storage?
"Interoperability is the only way," he said.
Duplessie's short list of the benefits of interoperability includes scaling, consolidation, improved utilization rates and more efficient usage of personnel.
We, as a society, don't grow storage professionals, mostly, he said, because budget and talent levels just aren't there.
"When interoperability occurs, that's when the networking people can be used across the board," he said.
Chief Technology Officer for Chicago-based computer consulting and training firm, the American Institute of Computers Inc., Prasad Paturi, said standards are influential in purchasing decisions.
"In our situation, interoperability is a very real concern. It's an issue we're facing," said Paturi.
"The Fibre Channel community can't agree on lunch," Duplessie remarked. "You have to ask them what standards they will support. Does the company support open APIs? If not -- that's a big red flag."
"It's been said that the network is the computer. Well now storage is the network," he said.
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