The New Year is traditionally a time to make resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking or drink less. We asked several storage veterans what their top wishes were for the year.
Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group wants to see an end to the buzzword de jour. "Vendors, VARs and customers need to look beyond buzzword bingo, focusing on what can be applied to solve problems vs. solutions looking for problems in order to stretch budgets further," he said. "This means working smarter, being more effective vs. simply improving utilization, reducing waste and rework to boost productivity."
2. Follow the Leader
Over the past few years, it has become clear that storage vendors are quick to jump on whatever bandwagon happens to be in the public view. Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), for example, became popular in the middle of the past decade. Overnight, companies rebranded their products as ILM, yet some didn't actually change anything other than the name.
This follow-the-leader mentality is very much in evidence with the cloud. Everyone talks cloud these days. In an effort to be "hip," almost any vendor is desperate to pronounce its cloud capabilities. Instead of standing out from the crowd, everyone just blends in.
"Another wish is that vendors and VARs learn to use some new plays or have their sales management call in some audible to react to opportunities that would otherwise be missed," said Schulz. "Instead of trying to compete with the same or similar message and themes, look for alternate ways of getting to the finish line."
Mike Karp, an analyst at Ptak-Noel & Associates, has a request for those vendors who profess to provide comprehensive infrastructure services to cloud providers -- to integrate a means of chargeback software into their offering.
"Having this means that ASPs and others providing services through the cloud actually have a straightforward and consistent way of billing for the services they offer," said Karp. "In most cases, cloud-based services are a paradigm for using technology based on a utility model, but unless there is a useful method of bookkeeping to accompany the purchase of those services, it's very difficult for providers to justify how much they charge and for users of services to justify to their management how much they are paying."
4. Laundry Lists
Juan Orlandini, a Practice Manager at Datalink, takes issue with vendors adding feature after feature to their core products, and then comparing their feature set against those of the competition. Enough, said Orlandini.
He doesn't doubt that speed, capacity, and all of those things remain important. However, they should take second place to the efficiency that can be delivered in the software that manages all of this.
"What we need to focus on and deliver to our customers is a better experience," he said. "In short, the experience of storage needs to be simplified."
5. Cloud for Compute
Molly Rector, chief marketing officer of Spectra Logic, is another who has had enough of the cloud hype. Her gripe, though, isn't with the overuse of the word so much as with the message remaining on why the cloud makes sense for consumers. She wants the discussion to move to the meat -- how to use the cloud for compute, when to use it for storage and when NOT to use it for storage.
"We have to help users understand the issues related to having enough bandwidth to get data to the cloud, get it back from the cloud and when to worry about what technology the data is stored on," said Rector.
6. Cloud Simplicity
Panzura Senior Director of Marketing Eric Thacker wants to see greater cloud simplicity and usability over the next 12 months.
"Organizations have some basic concerns about using cloud storage that are still hindering its rapid adoption," he said. "As more robust solutions to these concerns become prevalent in the market, cloud adoption should accelerate. I believe 2012 will be an inflection point in overcoming these concerns."
7. Quality of Service
The wish of John Spiers, CEO and founder of NexGen Storage, is for greater quality of service capabilities in shared storage.
"Shared storage quality of service (QoS) will become a requirement for 'best practice' virtualization deployments," said Spiers. "CTOs are increasingly pushing IT organizations to increase efficiency by extending virtualization throughout their data centers. To do this effectively and economically, these infrastructures require shared storage QoS capabilities."
Interoperability is top of mind for Fadi Albatal, vice president of marketing and product management at FalconStor Software, particularly in the networking arena.
"I wish for all networking equipment vendors to enable fluid interoperability of their equipment, so that all Fibre Channel (as well as FCoE) equipment can finally work together as they should," he said. "IT needs to have the flexibility to use whatever equipment is best as they expand their environments and not be locked into using only one vendor's systems."
9. Midrange Data Protection
Karp has another wish -- that the major vendors learn how to address the data protection needs of midrange companies. Historically, he said, all the big vendors have under-addressed (and in some cases, all but ignored) the midrange, a situation that has now become all but absurd because the midrange is proving to be a much larger market than the enterprise space. What most vendors provide in the way of midrange product is poorly thought out, and often is little more than a castrated version of their enterprise offerings, he added.
"This is an approach that just doesn't cut it for companies that have all the needs of their larger competitors but which also lack the wherewithal to make same level of investment as do enterprise data center managers," said Karp. "Vendors who do this properly are going to win big."
10. Price Stability
Albatal offered up one final wish -- and end to fluctuating market conditions that cause a roller coaster ride on storage prices.
"I wish that the disk shortage and price increases caused by the floods in Thailand finally settle down," said Albatal. "I'd like to see the manufacturing shortage crisis go away and for the storage market to enjoy lower prices."
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).