Storage

Something big is happening with storage these days. Your mainframe shop may have already felt the tremors that are rocking storage. The days when data center managers could just plug disk arrays into a mainframe channel and claim they had solved the storage challenge are gone. Storage has become strategic—central to the way the organization operates.

Not long ago, the buzz revolved around how much money organizations were sinking into storage. Although the cost on a per gigabyte basis has steadily dropped, the aggregate cost of those cheap gigabytes when purchasing tens or hundreds of terabytes of storage remains shockingly high. Industry analysts estimate that an organization may spend as much as half the IT capital budget on storage capacity. In many organizations, storage is the single largest line item in the IT budget.

Today, the focus isn’t on the money but on the new role storage is being called on to play and how storage strategies need to change to support this new role.

“Though storage has been independent of other systems, it is becoming interdependent,” says David Hill, principal, Mesabi Group, a research firm. That interdependence is leading to what Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM storage, describes as “a sea change occurring in the storage industry.” That change revolves around the sheer growth in the amount of data organizations must store and the recognition of the value of that data.

“This is about the growth of information and the management of that information,” adds Kristie Bell, IBM vice president for systems storage.

The amount of data being stored and its importance introduces several new factors into the traditional storage equation:

  • The data must be protected against system failure, natural disasters, theft, or unauthorized disclosure. Storage managers must protect sensitive corporate data as well as private customer and employee data.
  •  The data also must be made readily accessible to a host of business partners beyond the organization itself. In an economy increasingly dependent on global sourcing, authorized partners anywhere in the world may need access to your data.
  • Such issues as regulatory compliance and e-mail archiving impact the storage strategy. Managers need to document, audit, and control what happens with the storage at every step in the process.

“This is a changing storage environment and all the major vendors have been scrambling to shore up their storage offerings,” says Greg Schulz, senior analyst, StorageIO, a technology research firm in Stillwater, MN.

For example, HP recently revamped its EVA midrange storage product lineup and acquired AppIQ, a leading heterogeneous storage management vendor. EMC, too, has acquired several companies, refreshing its offerings.

IBM’s Offensive

In May 2006, IBM announced a series of product enhancements aimed at all aspects of its storage offerings. It enhanced the SAN Volume Controller (SVC), further extending its leadership in the area of storage virtualization. It bolstered its disk product offerings, including Network-Attached Storage (NAS). IBM also launched an open source storage management initiative, Aperi, which aims to replicate its success with Eclipse, its open source application development tool initiative.

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