Everybody`s jumpin` on the SANwagon
If 1998 was the Year of Fibre Channel, December was the Month of SAN Strategy Announcements. One by one, major storage vendors announced SAN plans that were, with some exceptions, long on vision and short on execution. And the rapid succession of announcements continued into this year, with Legato earlier this month becoming the latest vendor to roll out a SAN strategy.
But end users and, perhaps more importantly, storage integrators, should realize that just building the hardware infrastructure for storage networks--laying cable and cobbling Fibre Channel disk arrays, adapters, hubs, switches, and tape libraries--is only the first step toward realizing the full benefits of SANs. Right now, vendors are jockeying for position out of the gates, but the real race will be run on software turf.
It should be interesting. On one hand, major independent software vendors such as Legato and Veritas are busy partnering with just about every other vendor in the storage market. Meanwhile, systems vendors such as Compaq and Sun have their own SAN software development projects underway (see this month`s lead news story for more information on Sun`s gambit). EMC continues to put more and more emphasis on software and what they call enterprise storage networks. And smaller software vendors such as Mercury and Transoft are already selling what could loosely be called "SAN operating systems."
Regardless of which vendors come out ahead in the SAN race, IS/IT managers and third-party integrators should be focusing on the software side of the equation as they lay the hardware infrastructure groundwork. How do you manage these new architectures? Who "owns" the data? And what is data sharing, anyway?
At the application level, one thing`s for sure: In the early phases of Fibre Channel and SAN adoption, the applications that will benefit most will be backup/restore and clustering.