We are currently in the early stages of a period of change, the scale of which has not been seen before. We are all used to having to think about how we can renovate and improve our storage solutions – from proprietary direct attach through to standards based SANs to the hybrid internal/Cloud solutions of today and tomorrow - but the scale of the data we are now being required to hold, manage and gain value from is continuing to increase at a rate few of us can keep pace with. To stay afloat and successful, users need to navigate their way through an ever more complex set of technology solutions from an ever wider range of vendors, all of whom make claims to be able to help the user make sense of the confusion.
We can see changes like the introduction of Cloud based storage offerings that promise limitless capacity as well as new generations of much more sophisticated data management tools that through approaches such as real Thin Provisioning and Automatic Data Tiering allow us to provide what the user needs, rather than the traditional approach of providing what they want. We can also look at Storage Federation as an approach that will provide significantly more flexibility and scaling within user’s storage solutions, allowing more capacity to be used and have less lying idle. Most vendors are of course on the path of improving their solutions but only those that can take new ideas and technologies and then apply them across their solutions to provide the range of answers to the questions that today’s users are asking will be successful. HP acquired world class Thin Provisioning technology when it brought 3Par into its solution set. However it has improved that solution through the application of its in-house management solutions and much lower cost manufacturing and component delivery. At the same time, the Thin Provisioning approach has been used to improve its in-house developed EVA solution set. This is the style of accelerated solution delivery that will add discernable value to the user.
However, the real challenge comes from not only being able to discern the wood from the trees but being able to find a solution provider who is aggressively driving this new wave of platform innovation. These days that means through both internal cross-platform R&D, appropriate acquisitions and has comprehensive management offerings, for it is here that the current and future storage solutions will either add value and improve the users’ life, or fail and merely add complexity and cost to typically already strained solution sets.
Look for the vendors who understand that the world is a complex place, that understand that most users’ have and will choose to keep hybrid solution sets and who applaud them for that approach. There you will find those with the foresight to be considered for moving from supplier to partner – the others will most likely not be around in the future anyway.