The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: February 2006

Storage means more than storing

1 February 2006

It seems strange that storage, the one area of IT that is a necessary part of every installation, from one-man bands to the enterprise, should be the one that has hung onto its proprietary, independent nature for so long.
Having various vendors manufacturing components while others put them together to sell as a unit makes sense, but to have one storage vendors producing products that are incompatible with another's kit is the height of poking a stick in your customer's eye. Of course, that is what IT vendors love doing.
Imagine buying a hard disk for your PC, only to find out later that you cannot buy the new 400 GB drive from another vendor because it is incompatible with your current 80 GB drive? You would, quite naturally, be disinclined to support either vendor in future. Furthermore, imagine you had to pay a separate licence to be able to integrate your OS and the storage as well as hire specially trained support people (that cost more) to keep it running for you.
That sounds ridiculous and fortunately hard drives are quite easy to install and use in any computer system. When it comes to high-end solutions, however, the costs and skills demanded are, to say the least, large. And interoperability has not been a strength of the storage vendors.
This is changing, however, and the culprits forcing some form of interoperability are the compliance regulations coming into effect in most countries. In short, compliance means companies not only need to store specific data for long periods of time, they also need to be able to recover it when needed, irrespective of which vendor holds the data captive.
So vendors have to play nice, or at least appear to, which has led to them expanding their repertoire and striving to manage their clients' total information life cycle. This means integrating with other vendor products when they have to, and selling the idea of information lifecycle management - a concept best suited to a one-vendor strategy.
This may be an over-simplified and over-cynical summary of the storage market at the moment, but this special report is designed to highlight a few of the many issues facing companies concerned with the safe storage and management of their information. Naturally, the scope of the topic includes far more than we could contain in one report, but as in the case of effective ILM, you have to start somewhere.
Andrew Seldon


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