With the storage market inundated with vendor claims that products can meet the needs of every user the technologies won't be taken seriously until industry-wide standards are adopted.
This was the bleak outlook presented to delegates at StorageWorld in Sydney last week by Jon Toigo, the founder and chairman of the US-based Data Management Institute and managing principal of Toigo Partners International.
He said enterprises today are better off spending money on managing existing storage while keeping a keen eye on the technology's vendors.
While virtualization and grid storage are the current buzz words that vendors spruik, Toigo said, "We need standards instead of stovepipe solutions."
He said virtualization addresses the problem of more efficiently allocating capacity but it has been hyped as a silver bullet for SAN hardware incompatibilities.
The technology, Toigo said, is not ready for primetime use "so save your money".
"Grid storage is another cool marketing term with no other meaning behind it than to spend money," he added.
While virtualization may provide better utilization efficiency and shield end users and applications from storage complexity, the technology is still uncertain and therefore mistrusted as the current generation of products fall well short of well-intended vendor promises, he said.
"The technology falls short and there is so much fighting between vendors that it will limit product sales to existing client shops," he said.
"What you should do in the meantime is start building a data classification scheme yourself by looking at your applications and measuring transaction rates."
Director of Asia-Pacific storage research for industry analyst IDC, Graham Penn, said the storage industry has come further than Toigo gives it credit for, adding that the fact that every single storage device has its own idiosyncrasies needs to be addressed.
Penn said virtualization can save money through higher utilization rates and assists users by moving data around transparently.
He said it will allow enterprises to manage all devices and data in an automated fashion reaching a 'hands-off stage' but admitted standards are becoming increasingly critical as the industry heads towards automation.