More on iSCSI, Utility
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Claude Lorenson, Microsoft Corp.s technical product manager for storage technologies, said that customers are still driven to reduce total cost of ownership.
Lorenson noted that 43 percent of all servers today are in environments of 15 servers or less, and the company will address this market. Several key storage initiatives at Microsoft will be aimed at "driving SAN adoption in the mid-market, both Fibre Channel and iSCSI," he said.
Lorenson also said that new storage solutions will be coming from the Redmond, Wash., software maker "in the next quarter or two." In a session called "The IT Managers View," four storage companies brought customers to present their own real-world case studies of implementing new storage solutions, including several with new iSCSI-based SAN that replaced Fibre Channel installations.
One such makeover was described by John Denardo, IT director for Eagle Creek County in Colorado. The governmental offices replaced its direct-attached storage with a Lefthand Networks Inc. IP SAN.
"We couldnt afford a $250,000 Fibre Channel SAN," he said. Now, "disaster recovery is effortless, and our remote sites replicate nightly via DFS."
According to Denardo, the county had hired a "high-priced consultant who really pushed hard for a combination NAS/DAS solution." Instead, he went with the IP SAN, and couldnt be happier with the results.
In the closing first-day session, a panel of four storage company chiefs provided attendees with a look at what the coming year may hold for the industry and the storage market.
"Were seeing funded projects now," said Kevin Daly, CEO of Avamar Technologies Inc. of Irvine, Calif. "Thats a big change."
Agreeing with that trend, Chris Calisi, CEO of San Diego, Calif.-based Overland Storage Inc., agreed, noting that "theres good activity in the VAR channel, with quoting activity up. New storage environments are being planned."
"Last year, things changed. The SAN business is changing," said Larry Boucher, CEO of Alacritech Inc. of San Jose, who joined the upbeat chorus. iSCSI is really happening and will accelerate in 05."
Boucher looked out further to a "convergence of the backplane of the computer with the backplane of the switch," the result being "even more to happen in storage."
The executives addressed the topics of information lifecycle management and utility computing.
"[ILM] feels like it means everything and means nothing at the same time," pondered Rick Belluzzo, CEO of Quantum Corp. of San Jose. "It will be a rocky road to deliver a solution," he added.
Daly predicted slow acceptance of utility computing. "Its a nice topping-off feature, but we probably wont see much in the next couple years."
When asked what are the most significant trends for the year ahead, Belluzzo said: "Tiered storage, affordable solutions, and an ever-changing, dynamic industry."
Boucher, the technologist, said, "Were getting, finally, to a real global file system. That will have a serious effect on storage."
Daly foresaw significant growth in storage in the SMB market, where "the most influential person is the channel guy."
Belluzzo expanded on this SMB opportunity: "Wheres theres magic, theres marginhelping customers deal with all the complexity."
To Calisi, this will be the year of the customer. He said storage vendors need to improve "understanding the customer, not pushing technology. We have to be careful we dont promote the hype curve."
In his opening address, Farid Neema of Peripheral Concepts Inc. marked the 10-year anniversary of the conference. His retrospective of industry trends over the past decade showed that some things really havent changed all that much.
In 1994, interoperability of storage systems was a big problem, Neema said. And so it still is today.
Ten years ago, storage vendors pointed out that management costs for a storage system totaled about 8 to 10 times the purchase price of the storage itself, Neema said. Its a cost ratio thats still often cited by vendors and analysts.
However, over that span of time, the cost of disk storage has continued to fall significantly, while labor costs have risen. Thus, Neema suggested the management side of the equation has grown to be a very big cost culprit for storage purchases.
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Ease of use is critical for this market, Lorenson observed, adding that "were not quite there yet."