Interoperability can lead to other issues

Regardless of what solution an enterprise decides upon, specific business problems have emerged around storage. According to Oliver Day, an independent analyst in Aliso Viejo, Calif., the first hurdle to be cleared was that of interoperability, which the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has addressed. However, Day is unconvinced that this interoperability is enough.

“Remember the only thing required to clear the interop stage is to make it function in a predictable fashion, not a logical one. So every product has its own highly proprietary system that can’t interact with anyone else’s product in the marketplace,” he said. That leads to new issues including discovery, analysis, policy planning and policy management, Day added.

Discovery is the process of ferreting out all of the elements to a storage network, Day said. These elements are tagged and assessed for capability in the total storage solution.

“With this type of holistic view, one can render a dashboard to a storage network. Well, a dashboard isn’t all that useful without a steering wheel. Policy is needed to drive the storage vehicle that is created,” he said, noting that not all facets of this problem are as technical as some companies might imagine.

However, Day stressed that there are technical problems that need solving.

“Quota management was one of the first problems tackled by vendors,” he said. Because of staggering growth rate for data space consumption, this was a highly pressing need, and was addressed by creating products that would notify administrators of servers that were nearing capacity.

“This is a good start to solving the problem, but not enough. Why not start moving the least accessed files – or blocks – to another server after notifying the administrator? Vendors solve only one symptom at a time and never try to address the cure, and to offer a complete solution to storage networking requires that the disease of policy management be solved,” Day said.