SAN Users Cry Out for Better Interoperability

At Storage Networking World potential customers come in search of storage area networks and find more needs to be done in the area of network management, even as the Storage Network Industry Alliance takes the first steps to simplify multivendor environme

PHOENIX—Potential storage-area network customers continue to complain about interoperability, even as the first steps were taken Tuesday to simplify multivendor environments.

Even as the Storage Network Industry Alliance (SNIA) unveiled the Storage Management Initiative-Specification (SMI-S) at the Storage Networking World Conference here on Tuesday, customers complained that not enough has been done to manage storage networks and to allow administrators to configure them as they choose.

/zimages/1/28571.gifFor more on SMI-S, read "Storage Vendors to Get SMI-S Stamp of Approval."

Meanwhile, a slew of storage networking vendors announced backup and restore solutions, answering the need to comply with regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which requires companies to hold on to documents for seven years in case of an audit.

While migrating from direct-attached storage on PCs and servers to dedicated SANs and NAS (network-attached storage) appliances is a problem that large enterprises have already faced, it is slowly becoming an issue at smaller companies. Several potential customers interviewed by said they have never purchased a SAN and are attending the storage conference to evaluate potential vendors.

Thats not to say they are eager. "We were going to do it a couple of years ago, but there werent any standards at the time," said Matt Bliss, information systems project director for the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe Indians Corporate Commission in Onamia, Minn., which manages its own casino.

"Now, weve reached a critical mass of data," enough that the tribe cant put off the purchase, Bliss said. He plans to implement a 2-terabyte SAN within the next 12 months and is leaning toward the EMC Clariion, he said.

Justifying a separate storage infrastructure can be a challenge. George Cromwell, an e-mail and systems administrator at Brigham Young University of Idaho in Rexburg, said hes not sure he can tell the university administration how long the 70 to 100 servers he may purchase will last, or if compatibility issues will crop up down the road.

"If we go in and want to build a SAN, they look at us as if were crazy," said John Greer, director of IT infrastructure at Pacific Gas & Electric Co., during a panel discussion here. "If we say we want to go in and solve some form of a business problem, thats when we get the funding. We get it business case by business case."

Meanwhile, Doug Busch, CIO at Intel Corp., of Santa Clara, Calif., said he is trying to apply defect models to storage to provide an additional metric to gauge the companys investment.

Next page: Deployments, management top list of concerns.