zHoliday Storage Spirit

From FICON to fabric and “virtualization” to the many “natural” and manmade events that show disaster recovery in action, what a year it has been! Now that the holidays are upon us, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the year gone by and present my wish list and predictions for the year ahead. So, what’s on your wish list this year? More storage, disk, or tape? There’s connectivity and interfaces for FICON and more switch and director ports. How about we dust off last year’s plan and finally put in that SAN? What about LANs, MANs, WANs, SANs, POTs (pretty old technology) and PANs (pretty amazing new stuff)? Is this real or part of the “virtual” storage land?

Ah, chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, or is that your open systems, which are threatening to rake you over the coals? Sleigh bells are ringing, or is that the alarm bells for your resource utilization, telling you the system has reached full capacity? At any rate, the jolly old man has been busy at the mall, listening to wish lists; some of them are pretty tall. I wonder if he has a Penguin named Linux back at the Pole for his elves to track who gets the goodies (PANs) and who gets coal (POTs)?

Getting back to that wish list: there’s compliance, more protection, more retention—sounds like the storage boom is in line for a resurrection. It’s time for a technology refresh, as the current PowerPoint slides need a rest. There’s so much to do, so little time to do it; there’s WebSphere, Linux, FICON, and virtual storage, too. Oh wait, do you hear it? Is that the holiday spirit drawing near? Perhaps the local carolers, your support staff, or your vendors finally singing interoperability is near! Must be the holiday spirit or the buttered rum; open and virtual storage sure is fun.

Speaking of lists, have you checked to  make sure your end-of-year and new year’s lists are up-to-date and ready? If not, here are a few items that might be helpful:

  • Alka-Seltzer for that upgrade that was supposed to be a cinch
  • A pen with extra ink for signing yearend purchase orders, as well as writing reports, signing greeting cards, making shopping lists, and keeping track of the bowl games
  • More fibre for your diet (Well, OK, how about some FICON to help get things moving?)
  • More bandwidth to move your data as well as time in your busy day
  • Severe weather clothing because when it rains it pours
  • Fully charged cell-phone and PDA to manage your lists and play musical tones
  • Upgrade plans, fall-back plans, contingency plans—and to be safe—a disaster recovery plan
  • Begin classifying your data (classifying your to-do list might be quicker)
  • Pick up a technology terminology deciphering and decoding tool (Figure 1 should help).

To recap the year and to help you begin planning your lists for next year, Figure 1 shows some acronyms that appeared or were used quite a bit in 2003, with the expectation that they will also be used in 2004.

This past year has been an active year with a lot of things happening, and 2004 looks to be even more interesting with IT spending expected to pick up. (I know, this has been forecast for some time, but indicators are positive.) While not scientific, tradeshow and conference attendance usually has a corresponding relationship with IT spending, both of which appear to be improving. Following are my predictions of what will be some of the storage and storage networking trends for 2004 (and probably beyond):

  • IBM T-Rex enhancements, including virtual adapters for Linux to help lower TCO
  • A resurgence in xSP (service providers) as some carriers dabble in storage services combined with bandwidth (maybe now they have the bandwidth figured out)
  • New “x” term is xLM, where “x” is the word of your choice combined with life cycle management (e.g., “x” could be data, storage, information, etc.)
  • More coverage of object-based (a.k.a. content addressable) storage to support retention and xLM
  • Storage networking switches with more ports, more performance (1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 10GB), more protocols (FCIP, iFCP, FCP, FICON, iSCSI), and intelligence
  • ATA and serial ATA (SATA) disk drive technology continue to be deployed to help drive down costs of storage while capacities increase
  • Continued migration from ESCON to FICON (to access more addresses, Cascade, intermix open systems, and FICON) with enhanced distance support over IP and SONET/SDH
  • More storage virtualization activity, including new names, such as storage services, application services, virtual fabrics, virtual switches (LPARs for switches), fabric intelligence, virtual channel adapters, and intelligent network storage
  • Continued roll-out of storage and storage management solutions by Microsoft for WinTel environments, signaling that storage networks must be real
  • Continued focus on high availability, survivability, and business continuance in the wake (pun intended) of the recent hurricane season and power outages
  • The ongoing realization that distance is important for protecting data to keep businesses running
  • Carriers and solutions providers begin to leverage the fibre and bandwidth glut that exists in some parts of the world to leverage business continuance solutions
  • 4GB Fibre Channel to support backward compatibility and attachment of servers and storage via switches
  • 10Gb Fibre Channel and 10GB Ethernet for backbone interswitch links (ISLs) application
  • More iSCSI activity in the remote, distributed, and small- to medium-business (SMB) offices as stand-alone SAN islands or connected to core Fibre Channel-based storage area networks
  • Wireless storage networking demonstrations, while perhaps not practical, they should be fun to watch
  • InfiniBand finds its niche for high-density computing and grid applications with software support from database and others, using protocols such as direct-access programming library (DAPL)
  • Implementation of newly available peer-to-peer remote copy (PPRC) over Fibre Channel for IBM ESS storage devices as an alternative to ESCON, as well as XRC FICON distance extension capabilities
  • Continued storage and technology refresh, as well as new technology to support capacity growth to meet regulatory and compliance issues
  • Continued development of various standards, including Web services (IBM and Microsoft), storage management interface specification (SNIA S M I S , f o r m e r l y k n o w n a s CIM/WBEM and Bluefin), storage virtualization (FAIS)
  • Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for inventory and tracking impact on networks and the storage to track it
  • Proliferation of JAiD (just another iSCSI device) ATA/SATA-based storage subsystems
  • PCI-X on servers to support higher bandwidth rates of 4GB and 10GB
  • Continued industry consolidation and reshaping of various marketing alliances
  • New entrants into the storage and storage networking industry; departure of others
  • Rekindling of the storage interface wars, as its been quiet for a few years
  • More TLAs (three-letter acronyms) and buzzwords as well recycling of others
  • The usual more, faster, cheaper . . .

Rest assured, there will be plenty to write and talk about on a more serious note for the next year.

Have a safe holiday season and a happy new year ahead. Z