Make Room for Storage

Enterprise storage is not only a hot topic but also a top priority.

You are what you store. In your personal life, your decisions about what to keep, discard and store securely define what you consider important. The same is true in the enterprise. Storage—a subject that once seemed permanently relegated to the technology backwaters—is now among the top IT topics.

Consider the following options. If you had to choose among an effective spam blocker, a way to stop phishing attacks on your companys Web site, or a safe and effective way to make sure your data is secure, which would you choose? Im guessing youd place a higher priority on finding a way to make sure your data is secure and accessible based on authorization. Blocking spam and stopping phishing can help your company be more productive, but the inability to keep your companys data safe can put your enterprise out of business.

eWEEK recently held a one-day Storage Summit, which explored security, distributed storage and storage architectures. The sessions ranged from nitty-gritty case histories to prognostications about where storage technology is headed.

The importance of making the correct data available at the right time to the right person was most forcibly delivered by Jeff Cohen, former CIO of JetBlue and current CEO of Vertical Software Group. "If the data is unavailable, you cant fly the plane," Cohen said, referring to data and reporting requirements that must be fulfilled before a plane can lift off. JetBlue was at the forefront of electronic ticketing and "paperless" cockpits, as well as delivering the most efficient passenger loads during a turbulent time in the airline industry.

Cohen had the advantage of building from the ground up, and he leaned heavily toward Microsoft software. Other attendees at the New York event tended to be from the financial and services industries, where building from the ground up is not an option. Those industries are also heavily regulated, with reporting requirements that put data availability and accountability at the top of next years agendas.

While storage devices may be able to meet demand in the future—even as magnetic storage gives way to holographic and nanoscale devices—the ability to manage and administer storage will tax even the most advanced computer information systems, said eWEEK Technology Editor Peter Coffee at the summit. And if you cant find information when you need it, the ability to store it has little value.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to read Peter Coffees column about the runaway growth in personal storage capacity.

As both Rick Belluzzo, CEO of Quantum, and John Kelley, CEO of McData, said in their presentations, the lines among storage, data protection and reporting capabilities are blurring. "Security and management are the required tickets to play," Kelley told conference attendees. The ability to build large-scale, distributed storage networks is not a future development but is available now and represents a "tipping point" in computing, said Kelley.

While there are no ready solutions at hand, the best approach to the storage paradox of simultaneously developing more accessible data and more secure storage systems resides in giving storage the importance it deserves. After many years of building processor- centric systems aimed at delivering more and more horsepower, it is time to consider your computing infrastructure from a storage-centric perspective.

The major storage vendors are racing to build out their capabilities for smaller companies that cant afford big storage infrastructure costs. Last week, for example, EMC bought Dantz Development, in part to increase EMCs small and midsize-business storage offerings.

A storage-centric perspective calls for tracking not only where the data resides but also where the authentication and access control reside, what levels of backup are required, and how new regulations will change your storage requirements. In addition, such a perspective mandates a storage system that can not only accommodate existing data types but also be able to grow to accommodate voice over IP and rich data. The companies that can develop those systems will distinguish themselves from competitors—just as JetBlue distinguished itself from the rest of the airline industry.

Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist can be reached at

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