Senior Program Director
META Group , Inc.
IT organizations (ITOs) increasingly view storage as a strategic differentiator for existing and new applications. Many ITOs recognize the critical role information plays in the business, and leveraging that information requires an unassailable storage infrastructure foundation. I believe forward-looking ITOs have to continue to decouple storage and server selection. This aids in ensuring storage solutions are viewed as much more than an afterthought for new applications. For most organizations, I believe this is a best practice, and the trend will continue as the storage market matures in technical capabilities and more IT professionals become well versed in the arts and values of storage. Even though current capital expenditures are under extreme scrutiny (and will continue to be through 2003), leading ITOs are acquiring storage solutions on a tactical basisyet, they are planning and selecting the vendors on a strategic basis.
Overall, storage is moving to a services model, comparable to that of IP networking and (future) application infrastructure. Storage services will be tiered in function, price, and complexity, and delivered to applications and lines of business. For ITOs to deliver on this direction, storage (all aspects of itdisk, tape, disaster recovery, capacity planning, and so on) must be perceived and treated as an infrastructure component. Infrastructure components are common and reusable across as many consumers (for example, applications and servers) as possible; storage should be no different. Consequently, this requires a storage infrastructure to be an initial consideration (not an afterthought) to drive business priorities. Moreover, infrastructure design and planning teams must have seats at the business project table and translate technology into business value.
Typically, IT architects create architectural principles and guidelines addressing three- to five-year planning cycles, while infrastructure teams design and plan component technologies (vendor- and product-specific), targeting current through 36-month requirements. The challenge going forward will be how ITOs handle the transition from storage infrastructure planning and design to storage operations. This is a critical success factor for ITOs in general, but especially for storage management, because capabilities are rapidly maturing and vendors are rapidly innovating . I believe that, through 2004, storage infrastructure and storage operations may be organizationally in the same groupbut in the longer term (2005/06), I believe these responsibilities will diverge and become distinct groups, mirroring current systems, network, and application infrastructure and operations teams. The objective of infrastructure planning is to determine the scope, scale, and design of infrastructure necessary to provide application service levels required by the business in the short, medium, and long term. Furthermore, the primary design goal for information systems must be to enable rapid change in business processes and in the applications and technical infrastructure that enable them!
The implementation of automated networked storage (Storage Area Network [SAN] or Network Attached Storage [NAS]), which rationalizes ( reduces the number of variants in) storage management applications and optimally integrates these functions, will need to leverage tiered storage software, hardware, and professional services to be able to measure (both internally and for the business) a successful storage infrastructure. Automated networked storage will provide businesses with agility, dramatically increase productivity, and enable ITOs to manage terabytes and petabytes successfully and cost-effectively. This book will address, in detail, the various architectural considerations, the components that satisfy each storage architecture, and various connectivity options for a networked storage environment.
Because all applications and servers are not created equal (as determined by business requirements), prioritization for storage services (from premium enterprise-class to internal workgroup storage) must be evaluated. By 2004/05, more than 60 percent of the servers in the data center will be connected to networked storage, and I expect more than 70 percent of storage capacity to be networked in this time frame. Although there can be modest increases in procurement costs to network storage, the resulting benefits in management productivity, increased utilization, agility, infrastructure and operations personnel savings, and scalability are substantial.
Servers sharing external storage resources can also aid in holistic capacity planning and increase overall capacity utilization (such as in GB/TB, Fibre Channel [FC] fabrics , and external subsystems impacting data-center floor space, and so on). For applications that are more volatile, storage can be reassigned to the servers as the capacity threshold (6080 percent utilization) is reached. This is an area where enterprise storage procurement and capacity planning are important (compared to internal storage). I generally recommend a six- to nine-month buying cycle for enterprise storage and a competitive storage environment. Overall, ITOs can plan on an approximate 35 percent per year decrease in hardware prices (810 percent per quarter) and, given the state of the current global economy, should proceed cautiously on long-term acquisitions (12+ months).