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Storage Decisions 2001: The next big challenge

The lines between storage and networking are blurring and that means an inevitable change in the way IT shops position their staff, according to a Gartner vice president speaking Wednesday at Storage Decisions 2001.

CHICAGO -- Gartner Inc., Vice President and Research Director Nick Allen, said during a speech Wednesday at Storage Decisions 2001 that the worlds of storage and networking are about to merge, and the result could mean a big change in the way many IT shops look at positioning their people.

"Storage networking will force an organizational change," he said. "At least 50% of (end users) will be reorganizing their personnel in the next two years."

The culprit behind the predicted large-scale shift in people power -- or, as Allen put it, "the big, big problem" on the horizon -- is storage area management (SAM).

The executive definition of SAM, he said, is managing the relationship between applications and their storage, and everything in between.

"We must think in terms of applications," he said.

Allen believes the fundamental change in personnel will arise when the lines between storage and networking inevitably vanish.

"Storage guys are used to owning the relationship between the server and the storage. When you bring in (technologies like) iSCSI, the networking guys say 'I own that,' " Allen said.

The answer to the inevitable storage networking turf war? According to Allen, it will require the creation of a new, hybrid position that encompasses both networking and storage expertise. A position that he calls "the storage engineer."

Leveraging IT staff is no joke to people like Len Soderblom, who is part of a six-member team dedicated to handling 20-30 terabytes of storage for Northern Trust Corp., a Chicago-based bank. "The growth is phenomenal. We're handling it, but it's a lot of work," he said. The biggest problem going forward, he said, is the lack of good management tools.

The promise of SAM tools could provide some relief to strained IT staff like the team at Northern Trust.

According to Allen, companies like EMC, HDS, Sun, IBM, BMC, InterSAN and Veritas all have their hands in the SAM pie, but it remains to be seen who will emerge as the market leader.

Among Allen's recommendations for end-users facing storage buying decisions in the near future are understanding your requirements by buying full-featured storage only if you need all of the features; focusing on software; and including non-product criteria like integration and testing, partnerships, packaging, services and support, distribution and ultimately, price when choosing a vendor's product.

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


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