The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), in conjunction with Purdue University, is recruiting end users to assist it in creating a roadmap for the industry that better aligns users' business needs with technology development.
The roadmapping effort will hopefully assist all segments of the market in formulating their strategic plans and will set a bar for the industry, according to Wayne Rickard, vice president of advanced storage technologies at Seagate, and head of the project. The resulting document will become part of the public record.
"This is the first time we have listened to our users. Usually, the SNIA focuses on technology development and the business drivers are buried -- the roadmap will link the two," Rickard said.
Some users were skeptical of how open and receptive vendors are likely to be to this process. "I don't believe this will get further than a bunch of nice looking PowerPoint slides. Vendors are driven by Wall Street and increasing quarterly profits -- not long-term customer satisfaction," said a storage administrator with a large pharmaceutical company, who requested anonymity.
Maybe, but it has worked in other industries. Purdue University has a roadmap model that has been used by the natural gas and banking sectors for the same purpose. Ed Coyle, assistant vice president of computing and engineering at the university, will advise a core team of 12 representatives from business and industry on formulating the roadmap.
Rickard said the main challenge to a roadmap like this is not to make it too short term. The problem with a narrower view, he said, is that "individual companies will be pushing different agendas, maybe in opposition to each other. It's not as pure as a long-range view."
He noted that the roadmap will look five to 10 years out, and he hopes it will improve communications across the industry. There will be opportunities for shared development between vendors and communication between users in different vertical sectors. "Some will have unique storage needs and others might have problems ahead of the pack, which could signal a trend," he said.
The core team will identify 10 business challenges and take these to the end-user community for feedback. An example of a business challenge might be global outsourcing. Users are pushing to do more with less, and one way is to outsource certain functions within the business. Storage is a function within IT that could be outsourced as a service. "But can it be done securely, could you charge back for it, why did storage service providers fail? The technology challenge is to find out if storage is ready for outsourcing," Rickard said.
In order for this effort to be successful, the roadmap management team said it needs input and advice from users of storage devices and systems in as many different vertical sectors as possible. Users interested in taking part should contact the SNIA. The team plans to have the business drivers and technology goals finalized by the Storage Networking World show in the Fall and aims to have the project completed by the end of the year.
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