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Storage management predictions for 2005: ISCSI arrives at the center of the enterprise

ISCSI SANs are still building steam, and virtualization is on its way, says our Storage Management: Best Practices expert Brett Cooper. Other things to look out for in 2005? Greater adoption of compliance solutions and the arrival of ILM.
1) IP SAN (iSCSI) solutions move in the data center of the enterprise. I had predicted that 2004 would be the year for IP SANs, and I wasn't far off, with the many launches of new IP SAN products from industry leaders, such as EMC, and a bunch of new startups, as well as the continued onslaught by Network Appliance. But the movement in this space was really in the small and medium-sized environments, with some larger enterprise environments adopting IP SANs as well. The main adoption area was around Microsoft Windows Server environments, specifically for consolidation of large Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SQL Server environments. For 2005, I predict that large enterprises will look to adopt IP SANs for their data critical application requirements, moving beyond Microsoft Windows Server environments delivering storage for the open systems application platforms for both primary, secondary, and DR in the glass house, including IBM AIX, HP-UX, Solaris and Linux.

2) Regulatory compliance solutions drive storage growth. Remember the advertisement "Orange Juice: It's not just for breakfast anymore?" Well to coin a new phrase, "Regulatory compliance solutions: Not just for regulated data anymore." Many companies are looking at compliance-based solutions to lock down everything from source code to architectural drawings and digital video and audio. Compliance-based solutions provide the many benefits that these customers are looking to protect their date with, namely data permanence, security and audit ability.

3) Virtualization drives storage consolidation. "Wait a minute!" you might be saying, "2003 was the year of virtualization." You would be correct if I was talking about "storage virtualization." This year, I am talking about delivering virtualization capabilities at the server OS platform level, providing the capability of running multiple server OS platforms on one physical server system. This move in the server OS platform space will be an opportunity for many companies to rethink their storage platforms. Providing advanced services for storage on top of a virtualized OS platform will require a new way of thinking from the storage platform providers because the disk or LUN being presented to the physical OS platform running on top of the virtualization engine won't look the same. In the case of VMWare ESX Server, all Fibre Channel LUNs look like LSI Logic-provided SCSI drives. ISCSI and NAS all work like a charm, since they rely on the IP stack and can use standard NICs, but Fibre Channel devices all require a device driver within the OS platform and logically (virtually) look like a standard SCSI device. I look at virtualization at the server OS platform as the next step in the movement to a grid solution. Once the full infrastructure is virtualized a company can take advantage of some of the great benefits that everyone has been promised for so long.

4) ILM anyone? With the big push to tiered storage and the realization of the benefits of adding a few more tiers, such as nearline ATA-based disk subsystems or VTL for online backup, it is no wonder that the Information Lifecycle Management buzzword has taken so many of us by storm. ILM covers so many spaces that anyone in the storage industry can say that they are in the ILM business and make their story credible, but the truth is that ILM isn't a product, it is a strategy. Making the strategy reality takes more than the efforts of just one company. I see 2005 as the time when many companies in the storage space partner to deliver the ILM solutions that provide the management, movement and security for their customer's data.

5) Storage appliances move into the home enterprise. We have all seen the small single disk NAS devices in stores and in advertisements and thought, "Wow, wouldn't that be cool in my house for MP3s, kids software, shared documents or even digital video." And then we didn't do anything to deploy them in our homes. We may have looked at repurposing an older PC for this purpose, but the reality is that the process of truly making this useful is very time consuming and will require a good deal of training for our families, but the real capabilities of these great technologies are just on the horizon. As disk space and home-based technologies begin to emerge as both cost-effective and simple, we may all be enjoying a very low-cost, easy to manage home media library built on top of standard storage technologies that we use today. I would personally love to have a 1 TB NetApp FAS250 with NAS and SAN capabilities in my home.

About the author: Brett P. Cooper is a frequent speaker at storage industry events. During his recent tenure at Veritas Software, he was responsible for developing and delivering the first release of Veritas SANPoint Control, one of the industry's first storage management solutions. Brett was also one of the founders of the Veritas Press, where he acted as technical advisor for the well-known storage reference book, "Storage area network essentials: A complete guide to understanding & implementing SANs," by Paul Massiglia and Richard Barker. In Brett's current role for Network Appliance, he is responsible for delivering Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) and Internet SCSI (iSCSI) solutions to the market.

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