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NetApp's Warmenhoven: SNIA's thinking too narrow

PALM DESERT, Calif.-In a speech to attendees at the Storage Networking World conference here Monday, Network Appliance, Inc.'s CEO Dan Warmenhoven, challenged the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to change the way it thinks about standards.

"I'd like to chastise the SNIA for thinking too narrowly. For thinking only within the computer center. We need to think around the world."

Warmenhoven said that interoperability in a data center environment is a baby step. "We need to go beyond and reach for a bigger solution, one that is on a global scale and broader in scope than the data center."

The SNIA is a non-profit trade association that promotes storage standards through forming and sponsoring technical work groups, maintaining a vendor neutral Technology Center in Colorado Springs, and by "promoting activities that expand the breadth and quality of the storage networking market." NetApp is a voting member of the SNIA.

"Interoperability is no longer just a basic interconnect problem," said Warmenhoven. "Standards are wonderful things - there are so many of them. I'm here to say that we need more."

A sentiment echoed by AT&T Solutions' president and CEO Brian Maloney when he said "We're not doing enough fast enough." Maloney added that the lack of standards often leaves customers stuck within a single vendor's solution in a homogeneous environment, and not altogether happy.

Among Warmenhoven's predictions for the future of storage are the convergence of storage area networks (SANs) and network-attached storage (NAS) and a flip-flop in the overall makeup of the IT environment where servers would become the peripherals to storage devices.

Warmenhoven went on to detail the recent economic downturn and its relation to storage. "A year ago we never thought anybody would be concerned about cost of ownership. We thought we had an infinitely elastic market. We've hit tough economic times and issues are no longer focused on speed, but rather return on investment, and total cost of ownership."

He sees storage as a commodity, a simple container that is rapidly dissociating itself from the computer. "[Storage] has very little intrinsic value. The value is in the data inside those containers," he said.

During his keynote Warmenhoven also announced NetApp's support of the Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) standard, calling it the next step to being truly virtualized. "It's the direction of the future and will be widely deployed."

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor

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