News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Storage coming of age?

Editor's note: Welcome to our weekly column penned by storage community leaders. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Interact with your peers about this here!

I have always enjoyed writing as far back as I can remember, but I hate getting started. Once I start, I am OK as you will see. Given this dilemma, I have decided to use my first column to talk to you about how I see the overall state of IT and the storage industry. In future columns, I'll zero in on technologies and issues.

I believe that the next three years are going to be more transforming for you than the last 10 years put together.
I think from an overall maturity standpoint, IT is in its infancy. Even in the most sophisticated of IT shops, we are still doing things the way we did them in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Of course, I only speak of storage. I am told networking is far ahead of us, but you will have to ask someone else if that is true. Take, for instance, how we protect data. How many of you are still doing the same chores you were doing years ago: weekly fulls and daily incrementals? Almost 100%. How many of you are still using tape as the primary media for protection? Almost 100%. How many of you know with any degree of certainty if you can truly recover data from those tapes? Almost none. You get the point.

I am not laying the blame on you. If anything, the blame falls on the vendor community. But that's also not the point. Bear with me for another moment or two.

Take another example. How many of you are still using an Excel worksheet to keep track of your storage assets? How many use hand-drawn SAN topology pictures to manage SANs? Almost 100%. Do you know which apps are consuming the most amount of the most expensive storage? Maybe 50%. And, can you tell that Charlie in accounting is misusing storage assets? Not really.

I have been in storage in some capacity for the past 25 years or more. From the time DEC and Data General used those monstrous platters that held a whopping 5 MB, to the time when a million disk-drive companies were created in early 1980s. I still remember the times when I used to assign storage responsibilities to the newbies who were fresh out of college and didn't know any better. It was the dullest and the least risky job. And then it all changed. Storage became sexy. I give full credit to EMC for making it so. Now the best and the brightest want to be part of storage. A storage administrator today is a hot commodity. My, how things have changed!

And that brings us to the whole point of this specific column. I believe that the next three years are going to be more transforming for you than the last 10 years put together. Why do I think this? Because, besides your pain being at the highest level ever, I think the technologies have finally arrived. It is the nexus that makes the next three years crucial.

Finally, we have SATA drives, so we can overhaul data protection methods without robbing a bank. Finally, we have virtualization technologies that are worthy of the enterprise. SANs are finally paying off. ISCSI is real. Standards like SMI-S are nearly here. Products to put intelligence in the fabric are ready to ship with applications, not just as iron. And we finally seem to understand why archiving is not the same thing as backup. And so on.

Yes, I believe we are at the most critical point in relaying out our IT infrastructure. That is why selecting the right technologies and vendors will determine how competitive you are in your industry in three years. Pick the wrong virtualization technology, and it will haunt you for the rest of your career. Bet on the wrong horse for enterprise storage management software, and you would wish you could go back to the Excel days.

I intend to use future Thought Cache columns to help you through this maze: How to characterize the problem, how to separate the wheat from chaff, how to get started and, very importantly, how to measure if you are on the right track. That sort of stuff.

I told you once I got started I would do fine. There, we are at the end already. I am looking forward to communicating with you. I hope you are, too. Let me know what you think.

About the columnist: Arun Taneja is the founder, president and consulting analyst of the Taneja Group, an analyst and consulting group focused on storage and storage-centric server technologies.

Dig Deeper on Storage management tools

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.