First Person: Storage Utility: Anarchy Rules

The very technologies that need a common management scheme probably wouldn't exist if not for Capitalist Self Interest.

June 10, 2004

2 Min Read
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Kill the Competition?

His quips were filled with irony. Indeed, it seemed from their speeches that many of the awards recipients were convinced the only way to manage storage is to eliminate the capitalist competition that compels vendors to produce noninteroperable products. This line of thinking belies the fact that the very technologies in need of a common management scheme probably wouldn't exist if not for the self-interest of vendors in a market economy.

Tabellion resurfaced as a keynote speaker for a Storage Day panel discussion on the so-called "storage utility," and claimed that customers continue to pay "way too much" for storage. The industry is nowhere near achieving universal storage management, he concluded.

Asking Too Much?

Surprisingly, Tabellion received virtually no pushback from the eight other vendors on the panel. But then, to the chagrin of fellow panelist and co-SMS patent holder John Tyrell, he implied in no uncertain terms that hebelieves the burgeoning SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification) of the Storage Networking Industry Association is a farce. SNIA ignores capitalist incentive, he said, by expecting vendors to add SMI-S provisioners to their products with no reasonable expectation of ROI. That, he asserted, is asking entirely too much of the hundreds of second- and third-tier storage hardware makers, let alone the hundreds of storage software companies.

A show of hands among the 80-plus attendees revealed, first, that very few of them knew what SMI-S is and, second, that none of them never even considered "management via a common scheme" when selecting storage products. (Price was their top criterion.)

Bottom line: In the anarchical world of storage, vendors must build a solid business case for storage utility that will fly in a contemporary heterogeneous environment. Until they do, what's developed by SNIA stays at SNIA.

Jon William Toigo is a contributing editor to Storage Pipeline, CEO of storage consultancy Toigo Partners International, and founder and chairman of the Data Management Institute. Write to him at [email protected].

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