z/Journal: What is the most significant change you see coming to improve storage management, data protection, or storage security in the next few years?
Fred Moore: It’s hard to choose the most significant change, but the areas of CDP (Continuous Data Protection) and Commonality Factoring may offer the single greatest value. In the years ahead, we will challenge the 50-year legacy backup/recovery application with a new model that either eliminates the backup window or reduces it to a fraction of its current time, and at the same time will make recovery a thing of the past. Why recover data at all? Recovery means you need to move the data somewhere before you can use it. This takes time and stops the application. The CDP concept provides the potential to disrupt the ageless time-consuming backup/recovery model for one that enables negligible recovery times. Commonality Factoring has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of redundant data that is moved during the backup/recovery process. High availability of the IT function is critical for nearly every business now. Remember that backup is important, but recovery is everything.
z/Journal: The IT industry is pleading for mainframe-like storage management capabilities for non-mainframe systems. How far from reality is this request? Can it ever be achieved?
FM: Mainframe-like DFSMS capabilities for today’s typical IT environment that deploys multiple heterogeneous operating systems such as Unix, Linux, NetWare, Windows, and mainframes remain a pressing but distant goal. One of the biggest remaining issues for the highly effective DFSMS product suite and its comprehensive storage management capability is that it’s available only on mainframes and isn’t extensible to any other computing platforms. Savvy storage management vendors are expressing the growing need and significant business opportunity for an enterprisewide, policy-based storage management solution. This is increasingly important, since Unix and Windows (non-mainframe) systems now generate and account for more than 85 percent of the world’s stored digital data and clearly justify a legitimate, cross-platform storage management solution. Many non-mainframe businesses now demand the same level of mainframe-class storage management functionality they have counted on for more than 15 years. Today’s biggest storage management problems are centered in non-mainframe systems. A storage administrator on a mainframe manages, on average, well in excess of 40TBs of online storage while non-mainframe storage administrators manage just a few terabytes. The management costs are rapidly increasing and exceed hardware expense. The single requirement for a centralized, end-to-end storage management solution using a “single pane of glass” for mainframe and non-mainframe systems that really works across multiple operating systems couldn’t be greater.
Beyond mainframes, the Unix operating system hosts more critical, data-intensive applications than any other operating system. Unfortunately, the storage services provided by Unix today are basically the same ones that existed more than 20 years ago when Sun first released NFS (Network File System) and have seen little improvement since. There have been no significant enhancements to non-mainframe operating systems in terms of storage services since those early days when a “large” Unix server had about 1GB of disk storage and PCs were just stand-alone boxes. No one knew then that these distributed computing systems would one day be asked to do the work of a mainframe and to access as much, if not more, data than their mainframe counterparts. A few companies have signaled development activities toward a policy-based “storage engine” but it’s unclear if or when anything will arrive. Many think it’s just too difficult, especially for heterogeneous environments. The biggest hope near-term will likely be a policy-based proactive SRM that can take some actions based on user-defined policies. Don’t hold your breath for a non-mainframe SMS facility. If you want to run DSFMS and manage all your data, move to a mainframe.
z/Journal: In companies where storage management disciplines are a foreign concept, what advice would you give on how to run a tighter ship?
FM: The best advice would obviously vary by the business but I would start by having the company classify its applications into four categories: mission-critical, vital, sensitive, and non-critical. This process allows the business to understand the value of its data and act accordingly with how they best spend their IT dollars. Once this exercise is complete, the business can implement the storage devices, high-availability architectures, and data protection solutions that meet the requirements of the application to meet service levels and business requirements.
z/Journal: Compliance, especially Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), is costing companies a fortune, yet IT organizations are constantly trying to save money. Do you predict anything will happen in the near-term to lessen this tension?
FM: There’s a significant undercurrent of dissatisfaction regarding compliance in the IT industry. “Implementing compliance is like giving everyone in the U.S. a root canal when only a few have bad teeth.” Compliance will typically account for about 5 percent of the IT budget. Since most companies state they are trying to save money, adding expense for compliance doesn’t meet their objective. A 5 percent budget increase, or compliance tax, could push several companies into red ink and make them less competitive in the global marketplace. It was interesting to read an article in CIO Magazine (April 1, 2005) titled “Repeal Sarbanes-Oxley.” The article stated that 49 percent of the 463 respondents polled agreed SOX should be repealed. The author was the publisher of CIO Magazine and he said he would send all responses to Senator Paul Sarbanes and Representative Michael Oxley. Who would have ever thought that two congressmen would become the most widely recognized people in the storage industry? My prediction is that the large financial institutions and most of the Fortune 1000 will comply, but as you get into the SMB (Small-to-Medium-Size Business) markets, many requirements and laws won’t be observed to keep businesses solvent.
z/Journal: Tape cartridges and disk drives are quickly heading past the 1TB capacity level. What challenges and benefits go along with terabyte storage?