Users prefer homegrown code

We anxiously await each "wave" of TheInfoPro's end-user survey results, which are the most comprehensive storage-specific IT surveys we've seen. Not only do TheInfoPro researchers poll hundreds of IT users, but they also actually interview virtually all of them—in many cases for a full hour per respondent.

This provides a lot of insight into what users want, what they don't want, what technologies they think are hot, and what they think about specific vendors. (The survey reports include huge sections where users rank vendors on a variety of products, services, etc.)

The latest survey includes a lot of interesting results (which we use to tailor our editorial coverage), and you can read about a sampling of those results in one of our cover stories this month, "User survey: SRM finally takes off."

One thing that really jumped out for me was the section regarding which vendors the survey respondents used for storage management software. As our article on the survey states: "When asked which vendors they currently have installed or plan to install for storage management, a whopping 63% cited "homegrown" software, followed by EMC at 58%, Veritas at 55%, and IBM at 51%."

Granted, TheInfoPro survey was stilted toward large IT organizations (of the 250 companies surveyed, 150 were in the Fortune 1000) that have a lot of in-house programming expertise. But you can interpret the results in another way: It's a sad comment on the state of vendors' storage management software offerings.

When asked who their lead vendor was in 10 specific software product categories, users cited EMC five times, "homegrown" four times, and IBM once (see the table, p. 14, for details).

I can only conclude that the majority of storage management software packages fall short of user expectations. Or, they're way too expensive—which in many cases they are. (If you don't believe me, get some price quotes on SAN management software.) At today's software prices, apparently it's often easier to "roll your own" solutions.

When you get a survey like this one, it's also interesting to weigh what vendors hype against what users actually think is hot. For example, in TheInfoPro's "Heat Index," information life-cycle management (ILM) scored only a 50. That compares to a score of 100 for storage resource management (SRM). And backup outsourcing scored a 0.

Disaster recovery, and related technologies such as replication, scored high in TheInfoPro survey. Our Special Report this month, which is a collection of articles by leading storage analysts, focuses on disaster recovery and business continuance. Coverage begins on page 18.

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Dave Simpson,

This article was originally published on August 01, 2004