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Expert predicts the future of data center storage

Forget about interoperability. You'd better start thinking about performance.

CHICAGO -- With storage-related interoperability problems steadily becoming a thing of the past, storage vendors and administrators alike will shift their focus to performance issues going forward, a well-known IT industry analyst predicts.

Speaking at TechTarget's Data Center Decisions 2004 conference, Richard Scannell, vice president of corporate development and strategy for GlassHouse Technologies Inc., said this focus shift will eventually lead storage vendors to introduce highly detailed performance-based pricing plans.

You need a security culture in your environment.
Mike Furman
IT ManagerMB Financial

For end users, Scannell said, the attention shift means more time spent performance testing storage products in the days after they're purchased, and therefore more leverage to hold vendors' "feet to the fire" when promises aren't kept.

"Interoperability was probably the No. 1 issue that you heard three years ago," Scannell said. "I think that it's going to get replaced pretty quickly by performance in the storage area."

The analyst also told the audience that data retention regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act have CIOs thinking a lot more about stored data in terms of its organization and accessibility. He said this translates to another shift in focus from storage network management to the management of information itself.

"It's the first time that CIOs are asking about data from a recoverability perspective," Scannell said.

As administrators begin paying more attention to matters of information organization and recoverability, Scannell said, the security of stored data will begin to take center stage.

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"For 10 years, we've all been talking about security, but it has all been about security on the wire," Scannell explained. "About 2% of your information goes across the wire on any given day. The vast majority of information is sitting on a bunch of disks."

Conference attendee Mike Furman, an IT manager with MB Financial Inc. in Chicago, said it makes sense that off the wire security is a growing concern. He said the key to keeping these systems secure is fostering security awareness among data center employees.

"Make sure they have the mindset to protect the systems that are in place," Furman said. "You need a security culture in your environment."

Scannell also took some time to go over some of the storage advancements of the past several years, saying that iSCSI technology has come a long way and will continue to be a growing presence in enterprise data centers.

iSCSI, or Internet Small Computer System Interface, is an Internet Protocol (IP)-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities. The protocol allows for the carrying of SCSI commands over IP networks and is used to facilitate data transfers over intranets and to manage storage over long distances.

"The last step in decoupling storage from computing is really being enabled by iSCSI," Scannell said. "Now we have the ability to have data separated from the computer which means that we can do … server refreshes and whatever without impacting the availability of the data."

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