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Prepare for future trends in storage management

The last year has seen some significant changes in the storage market, not the least of which is the growing integration between managing storage and the rest of the data center infrastructure.

Two common themes surfacing could eventually have implications to storage administrators as storage management becomes more fully ingrained in larger management strategies that reach up into the application and business process layers of enterprises.

First, a number of vendors have unveiled their own master plans for rolling out migrations to utility computing. (Over time, utility computing promises common virtualization technologies, provisioning and integrated policies that stretch across applications, networks, servers and storage.)

Second, we've heard about a number of acquisitions over the last year that will ultimately bridge storage with application requirements, such as Veritas' acquisition of Precise, EMC's acquisition of Documentum, and, most recently, Hewlett-Packard's acquisition of Persist Technologies. The result means storage administrators need to pay more attention to how their vendor selections and deployment tactics impact other parts of the data center. We'll talk in more detail about what to think about as part of this process.

So, where are the key areas of consolidation and overlap that administrators need to start thinking about? Here's a list:

  • Content and storage management convergence into information management: Two recent

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  • events point to the growing trend of application content being increasingly managed as a team effort, where storage management tools comprise a combined information management strategy for enterprises. These events are EMC's intention to purchase Documentum as well as IBM's broadening integration between its content management tools and storage management. The result of this trend will mean that storage management policy and data management tools will likely integrate with content management tools that are responsible for application-specific workflows and policies.
  • Enterprise network and SAN management: As more companies evaluate IP storage environments and bridge SAN islands between corporate sites, the need to have a consolidated view of both enterprise IP and storage networks will only increase.
  • Utility Computing Convergence: As system and management vendors roll out their grand plans for helping customers shift to utility models, customers will increasingly have the choice of using a common service manager to manage application layers, network, server and storage infrastructures. To be sure, this will not happen overnight, but will progress as both server/storage provisioning and server/storage virtualization start to be integrated.

Despite these impending trends, the big issues for storage administrators will be around how to select tools that meet the broader, long-range data center objectives. There are a number of questions you should think about in this regard:

  • What are the plans of your current storage management vendors for integrating with products outside the storage environment (network, servers and applications)?A
  • What plans does your IT staff have to develop utility services as well as information management (data retention and ILM) plans?
  • Which upcoming projects give you an opportunity to explore how this integration could be done within your own organization?

Finally, this is an exercise in team building. Reaching out to your brothers in arms that manage the enterprise network, content management or overall data center operations (if you are not involved in these functions yourself), will be very important to future storage management strategies.


About the author: Jamie Gruener is a SearchStorage.com expert and the primary analyst focused on the server and storage markets for the Yankee Group, an industry analyst firm in Boston, Mass. Jamie's coverage area includes storage management, storage best practices, storage systems, storage networking and server technologies. Ask him your storage management questions today.

This was first published in December 2003

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