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Solving The Storage Riddle

Storage decisions once were easy. You bought a computer, and it came with an internal hard drive or a storage array. But in recent years, storage has become more complicated as the technology evolved and new rules and regulations mandate the retention of vast classes of information for many years. Add to that the growing threat of stolen data and identity theft and a morass of other technical and business issues, and you've got a pretty perplexing set of concerns.

As businesses spend more on storage systems, there are questions that can't be ignored. Storage decisions can have an impact on the bottom line and, in some cases, how well a business performs. That's why more companies are looking at various kinds of storage services and outside advice as a way to answer some of those questions.

Storage services are divided into four areas. Two aren't new: hardware maintenance and support, which includes physical repair, troubleshooting, and warranty upgrades; and software maintenance and support such as operating systems and infrastructure software, installation, and migrations.

Among the new services is storage consulting, which covers strategic, architectural, operational, and implementation planning. There's also a broad category of management services that includes systems operation or support, capacity planning, asset management, availability, performance management, security, storage on demand, and backup and recovery.

Economics is driving many storage decisions, as businesses try to consolidate large storage infrastructures and rein in storage spending. The total external controller-based disk storage market was $3.5 billion in the first quarter of 2005, 11% higher than the year-earlier period, according to IT advisory firm Gartner. Storage vendors such as Dell, EMC, IBM, and Network Appliance all experienced double-digit growth.

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