Will network and storage teams merge?

September 21, 2009 – Server virtualization brings up an old question: Within IT, should the network and storage groups combine? The question is valid because virtualization has created an unprecedented inter-dependency within IT teams – and not only between storage and networking, but also the server and applications teams.

The question isn’t new. It first arose when NAS hit the scene, and came up again when iSCSI gained momentum. But for the most part, NAS and iSCSI are still the domain of the storage professionals.

The question is moot at most SMBs, because the same person or small team is responsible for virtually all IT disciplines. But at larger enterprises, merging IT groups is a stickier issue.

I don’t think virtualization alone will lead to a merger of network and storage groups, and a recent survey of Fortune 1000 firms conducted by TheInfoPro (TIP) seems to, partially, support that opinion.

According to the TIP survey, although more than half (54%) of the respondents said that server virtualization has had a ‘significant’ or ‘major’ impact on addressing storage needs, 78% of the respondents said they do not expect storage and networking teams to combine.

In addition, most (77%) of the respondents said they do not have a separate virtualization group, and 60% said their organization sees major operational benefit in having a separate data management (storage) group.

Still, that seems to leave a lot of IT pros on the fence regarding the merger of network and storage groups.

But if NAS, iSCSI and virtualization don’t drive the various IT groups together, one emerging technology could be the tipping point: Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and so-called 'converged networks.'

FCoE, together with the other storage/networking technologies, could cause interesting internal IT battles. And if it doesn’t lead to an actual merger of IT teams, it will most certainly lead to the need for an unprecedented level of cooperation between them.

For another take on TheInfoPro’s study, see Kevin Komiega’s blog post, “Come together? Not now . . .in IT”

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posted by: Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief
by Dave Simpson
Editor-in-Chief

Dave Simpson has been the Editor-in-Chief of InfoStor since its inception in 1997. He previously held editorial positions at publications such as Datamation, Systems Integration, and Digital News and Review. He can be contacted at dsimpson@quinstreet.com

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