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Editorial: Web services for storage? It's already happening

Web services for storage? It's already happening

A couple of months ago I read an IDC research report that said iSCSI storage was hot, really hot. The think tank reported that in 2006 the iSCSI market grew to nearly $750 million (about $150 million less than a good EMC quarterly revenue number), a gain of approximately 140%. That's impressive enough, but then they predicted that by 2010 we would be buying approximately $5 billion worth of iSCSI stuff. Hmmm, better take another look at those budgets ...

Of course, we don't know how accurate IDC's ambitious prediction will be. We do know Storage readers and Storage Decisions attendees have proven themselves to be a good measure of what's happening in the real world, and while iSCSI is certainly of interest, it doesn't look like a good $5 billion bet today. We think 10Gig Ethernet will give the technology a kick in the pants, but can it boot it up into the billions?

It's fun to watch the prognosticators push around big numbers, but they have little practical value to typical storage pros. Tell them how to ease pain points, not which market segments will balloon. Indeed, the best developments in storage tech often evolve when no one is looking and front-line IT managers see them coming long before research firms do.

Take Xiotech's recent product upgrade announcement. When a storage hardware vendor rolls out a new product, you expect to hear a lot about speeds and feeds, more capacity, better scalability and so on. But Xiotech didn't unveil any new hardware, just new software to run its hardware.

Big deal, right? Hardware vendors are always tweaking their OSes and configuration apps. What's truly interesting is how Xiotech revamped its software. Its new apps are based on a Web services platform and, while I'm not sure if this is a first for a storage hardware vendor, it's a pretty cool idea.

With most storage standards still languishing on vendor roadmaps and in committee meetings, Xiotech's approach makes a lot of sense because the standards for Web services development already exist. By leveraging Web services, Xiotech can create management apps that plug easily into its OS so new functionality can be added or deleted as needed. Because it's based on Web services, you can use a development platform like .NET to create these plug-in apps or applets. And I do mean you. Because of the standard Web services interfaces, you can write your apps to add the specific management functionality your company needs. Or another vendor can do the same thing.

If all hardware vendors adopted this approach, you could have a toolkit of features and functions that could work on a variety of hardware platforms. Of course, Web services won't erase the essential differences among hardware platforms or wipe out the need for APIs, but it could make managing heterogeneous systems much easier due to similar interfaces and functionality.

So maybe a relatively old set of standards, like those for Web services development, will replace some of those new storage standards even before they have a chance to be fully implemented. Web Services for Storage (WSS) ... sounds pretty good.

New faces in Storage
You've probably noticed a few new bylines on our columns lately. Change happens, and while we're sorry to see some stalwart columnists move on, we're excited about the fresh views our new columnists bring to Storage.

The Hot Spots column now features alternating analysts Lauren Whitehouse and Bob Laliberte. Ashish Nadkarni shares Best Practices with long-time column anchor Jim Damoulakis. And our end-page column, Storage Bin, long manned by the irrepressible Steve Duplessie, is in its "2.0" version and the stomping ground for Tony Asaro.

Welcome to these new writers and thanks to their predecessors, Jon Oltsik, Brian Babineau, Stephen Foskett and Steve Duplessie.

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