Users Blast Vendors in SNIA Survey

Interoperability issues head the list of pain points this year

April 19, 2007

3 Min Read
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SAN DIEGO -- Storage Networking World -- The SNIA End User Council unveiled results of its third annual end user survey here today, highlighting concerns with interoperability, painful upgrades, and immature technologies.

The 2006 survey results, based on online input from 387 respondents, show users are adding more storage infrastructure and a greater diversity of vendors than ever before. But they're not getting the interoperability and management they need -- and vendors are hurting as much as they're helping.

While more than 40 percent of those polled expect to upgrade a stable SAN at least once a year, respondents indicated there's a 50/50 chance of success when vendors claim to be able to solve a problem.

A full 47 percent of respondents reported that installing a vendor-recommended storage fix either didn't solve the problem or made it worse.

Users not only want more help, but they're willing to pay for it. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they'd pay more to have an interoperable solution if the choice between vendors was otherwise equal; and that percentage of those polled would pay an average premium of 7.6 percent for the guarantee.Despite not trusting their vendors, users are nonetheless dealing with more of them. Those polled reported adding vendors for disk frames, HBAs, fabric switches, and even for tape drives and media since the SNIA 2005 survey. (Oddly, there was a higher increase in usage of new vendors for tape products than for disk frames.) The only infrastructure item for which users didn't report adding vendors was servers.

Respondents worry about storage, and their list of concerns is topped by upgrading and interoperability. In large companies especially, respondents said their chief worry was being forced to upgrade storage gear, followed by worries about software upgrades and firmware upgrades, in that order. Large companies accounted for more than 40 percent of those polled, or 184 out of the 387 respondents.

Other big worries include technologies that are unproven, unstable, and hard to install or maintain. CAS, virtualization, and InfiniBand are all perceived as relatively immature technologies, while CDP, iSCSI, and SRM are perceived as more mature.

Maturity doesn't mean troublefree. Despite giving high marks to SRM, 30 percent of users said storage management software took the most time of any technology to install new, and it requires high levels of maintenance. Forty percent of respondents said storage arrays take the most amount of time to install but don't require excessive maintenance once in.

Given growing IT storage complexity, it isn't surprising that over 20 percent of respondents named human error the top source of disruption to service in the last year. Roughly the same percentage report hardware failure not related to disk drives as disruptive, and new technology took third place as a source of added cost and disruption.Other concerns included: software being stored in formats unreadable across applications; management software not working across multivendor environments; software not working with new hardware; and hardware falling behind operating system updates.

This year's survey is already underway and can be found at the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Website.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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