Storage for 2010 - Integration Innovation

Hello InfoStor Readers,

This marks my first post here at InfoStor, which I've gladly taken on in discussion with Dave Simpson, InfoStor's Editor in Chief. As "the" storage industry print publication, I am looking forward to supporting InfoStor with storage specific topics that might be well served here. Meanwhile, my more general blogging is likely to still be found occasionally on ComputerWorld and more often at the Taneja Group blog site - tanejagroup.blogspot.com.

This forum is timely as I think 2010 promises to be a big year for storage, and will provide much fodder for on-going dialog. The past several years have seen a bunch of innovative technologies take the stage, and diversify the number and types of solutions available to companies building a storage infrastructure today. Yet a lot of these technologies have fallen into a number of well defined buckets, where they've been cooked to maturity throughout 2008 and 2009.

2010 looks poised to see a lot of these technologies become better melded together, and simultaneously more cross pollinated. Enterprise arrays have come out with more sophisticated internal volume virtualization, to the point of subvolume tiering (IBM's ADR and EMC's FAST). The gap between enterprise and mid-range is getting smaller, and there are many things that fall in between, or are actually on par with enterprise as long as you do not require FICON. WAN optimization vendors like Riverbed are applying their technology to new things that look similar to dedupe. De-dupe vendors like Quantum are focusing on taking data outside of the box, and seamlessly moving data between repositories. Vendors like SandForce appear to be leveraging technologies like hashing and perhaps even a little capacity optimization. SandForce is doing this within SSD, which is quite a long ways away from the place where such technologies are most often seen (backup storage).

The thing to note is that a bunch of the innovations we're seeing now are not the creation of a specific new technology, but about integrating existing technologies to create new solutions. With that being the case, each and every vendor has tens to hundreds of different opportunities that they can execute upon, that will deliver new capabilities from their solution. Moreover, we'll find a lot of these new capabilities may create huge differentiations between these solutions. Case in point, we're seeing some clear differentiation in which technologies vendors are focusing most heavily on when choosing to extend their enterprise array capabilities. As a result, and a few hypothetical examples, your needs might very clearly be better served by vendor X if security is a high priority, by vendor Y if replication is a high priority, or by vendor Z if the virtual infrastructure is a high priority. Over the next year, leadership in similar dimensions is likely to become even more clearcut as vendors make their integration choices.

Consequently, I predict 2010 will be the year of integration for the business market, and therefore differentiation through integration. I'd even go so far as to say that the enormous potential behind these promise of deepening integration is a large part of the energy behind the buzz (continuing to crescendo into rolling thunder) of cloud. Deep beneath the buzz, the idea of a cloud infrastructure is actually all about integration - integration with orchestration and automation layers that can turn existing storage and server technologies into elastic pools of resources that can serve up compute and storage services to the rest of the enterprise in a way that is highly self managed.

The landscape looks poised to become much more complex this year, but in that complexity, we'll find greater differences between solutions (and consequently greater likelihood that a particular solution will give your company some specific capability you're after). 2010 will be a fun year to be looking at the storage market and making solution recommendations, and I'm looking forward to using this space with InfoStor to bring attention to developing events. Stay tuned for coming posts. Feel free to reach out - jeff@tanejagroup.com.

Jeff Boles
Sr. Analyst
The Taneja Group

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posted by: Jeff Boles

Jeff Boles, InfoStor Guest Blogger
by Jeff Boles
InfoStor Guest Blogger

Jeff has a broad background of hands-on operational IT management and infrastructure engineering experience, with more than 20 years of experience in the trenches of practicing IT.
Prior to joining the Taneja Group, Jeff was director of an infrastructure and application consulting practice at CIBER and, more recently, an IT manager with a special focus on storage management at the City of Mesa, Ariz.