If there was any storage theme for 2003, it would undoubtedbly be consolidation. The industry is consolidating: Vendors like IBM, Veritas and others are buying technology and whole companies, while end users are consolidating their storage, if not their vendors. Let's look at each of these issues.
Vendor consolidation doesn't change much until late 2003. In most cases, the products and technology that are being aggregated can't be changed that quickly. Various product management and marketing teams are still in the process of defining their strategies and approaches. Look for meaningful statements of direction in late Q2 and look for the products to change in late Q3 or Q4.
While there will certainly be improvements in products and technology throughout the year, the revolution (this phase at least) is over. This year's changes will be incremental, not revolutionary.
If we look internally at what end-user organizations are doing, we see that most companies are still working to consolidate their servers and storage. Server consolidations of three-to-one, even five-to-one, are common. The drivers here are the reality of cost of ownership vs. acquisition cost, more powerful and lower cost hardware, and the licensing cost of server operating systems. Further accelerating this process is the improved reliability and speed of server hardware and software. There is much less need to segment resources for reasons of performance or reliability.
To some degree we can thank (or blame) Microsoft and their Active Directory for forcing the user community to confront the totality of their networks and come to grips with them as a whole.
What does this mean to us? Now is a good time to confront our situation and make it better. The storage technology platforms are comparatively stable and well-known. There is a good economical reason and a technical necessity to rework the infrastructure. Quiet moments are well used to prepare for the next round of excitement. The economy won't be sluggish forever.
About the author: Bruce Backa is chief technical officer (CTO) for NTP Software, a long-standing IT leader and one of SearchStorage.com's storage management experts. Ask him your storage management question today.