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Storage execs need to move toward utility model

Industry analyst Steve Duplessie said he believes IT needs to start thinking about storage as a utility and maybe start making the department some money.

CHICAGO -- Storage guru Steve Duplessie said there needs to be a new infrastructure paradigm and a cohesive enterprise storage management framework to effectively manage storage resources. Upshot: A storage utility model.

Duplessie, analyst and founder of the Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group (ESG) addressed the fundamental changes that he believes are necessary to advance enterprise storage management during the SearchStorage Storage Management conference being held here.

The outspoken analysts delineated a plan that would bring corporate IT closer to a utility model -- that can do what it says it can do, prove it and actually cost what it has been budgeted for.

"Most IT departments aren't a business, they function as a support mechanism," said Duplessie. "Once [IT departments] can make money and act like a business, [IT departments] can stop asking for handout and do the projects they really want to do."

There are four points Duplessie made to help start this process toward becoming a money-making operation. The first point, finding out what your IT organization has, was also echoed by Giga Information Groups storage analyst Bob Zimmerman.

"It may sound like Enterprise 101, but the first step to storage consolidation is to find out what your organization has. Every server, every laptop, every PDA" said Zimmerman. "You have to find out where all of the transmissions of data into the data center are coming from."

The second point was aimed at users understanding usage patterns by storage assets and by business line.

For this to happen, Duplessie thinks that a smarter disk and sub-system that can distinguish between the mission critical business data and a Napster download would "save a lot of money in capital."

Third is finding a way to restore 100% of data, 100% successfully. Fourth, is the prospect of heterogeneity. This concept Duplessie believes will be realized when users will be able to buy best-in-breed to solve a current problem, not just individual tools.

With those concepts in place for starting towards complete ESM, Duplessie outlined the Enterprise Storage Group's puzzle chart for storage management success that includes four pieces; storage resource management, network management, policy management, data management and virtualization.

While users agreed that this sounds like a good model, they also wondered what many in the industry are wondering today.

"I like the vision, but what I am waiting for is -- how," said John Merrell, systems engineer for Online Computer Library Center in Dublin, Ohio.

Users were also skeptical about the promise of virtualization.

"I think virtualization is a virtual concept," said Phillip Brown, senior data center manager of Arlington, Ill.- based Focus Communications. "Right now I don't have the time to think about virtualization. I have a server that is running out of CPU space and a switch that needs to be replaced."

For more information:

Special event coverage from Storage Management 2002 in Chicago

Q&A: Duplessie asks, EMC answers

View out hand-picked Best Web Links on: Enterprise Storage Management

Read more on the The five pieces of a storage management pie

See Storage Management forum posts #122-142 to read more from Steve Duplessie on SRM, virtualization, terabytes per administrator and other good storage management issues.

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