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Analyst: Storage, networking forge closer ties

New federal regulations as well as more data and applications are causing enterprises to turn to the network to meet their storage needs. One Aberdeen analyst says there's growing interest in storage resource management tools, which control available storage space and monitor SAN health.

Budgets are tight everywhere, but that doesn't mean that IT departments have fewer needs. As applications become more data-intensive and companies face new federal regulations requiring them to archive information, the need for storage is growing. David Hill, vice president of storage research with the Boston research firm Aberdeen Group, recently conducted a survey of enterprise storage professionals. Here he shares some of his strategies for growing your storage capacity without breaking the budget. What is driving the growth in storage?
David Hill: There are new regulatory requirements like HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] that require increased archiving, new applications and the growth of existing applications. Companies are adding data and applications every year, and they tend to not throw anything out, so storage needs end up growing. What actions are companies taking to address their storage needs?
Hill: Companies are expressing more interest in storage resource management tools than they have in the past. These are tools that help manage available storage space and monitor the health of the storage area network [SAN]. What are the biggest costs associated with storage?
Hill: The largest cost is the management of storage. And, unfortunately, while storage grows, companies expect the same number of people to manage the infrastructure. Companies need to be willing to grow their staff. But many companies are not willing to do that. The core costs of storage are going down every year by as much as 35% to 40%. But the cost of people does not [go] down; if anything, it increases. As a result, there is more storage capacity for each person to manage, and the systems are growing in complexity, making them harder to manage. How are companies balancing the reality of tight budgets with the need to improve storage?
Hill: Through consolidation, companies are trying to make more effective use of the resources they have. By cleaning off old disks, they will have less to back up and less to manage. If they use the disks they have, rather than adding new disks, they will be able to manage them more effectively. Outsourcing, however, has not been popular. Companies have been unwilling to let go of their data because of concerns about control and security. What new technologies should IT managers keep their eye on?
Hill: Storage management is evolving rapidly. There are protocols to pay attention to, like the iSCSI protocol. There are some new improvements in disk arrays and tape. Even in basic areas, change is coming.


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