The storage industry underwent some substantial changes in 2003. Here is my list of the some most interesting things we saw. Sorry if I have left out a few of your favourites.
1. The increasing level of interoperability evident on storage-area networks.
This is a direct result of the efforts of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) and its Storage Management Interface Specification (SMI-S). As a result, over the next few years, vendors will be able to get products out the door cheaper, more quickly and hopefully, at an improved price.
2. The increasing reliance on service levels as a metric for success.
Both users and service suppliers seem to be getting brighter when they write service-level agreements, drafting them not as cudgels but as guidelines and performance metrics to help both sides of the agreement. The bottom line for IT to remember is that if they expect their stakeholders to pick up the tab, then they had better be prepared to deliver the goods.
3. The rise of information lifecycle management (ILM) as a market driver.
First came the hype, and then came the disclaimers from companies that had no applicable product or marketing program, saying that "ILM isn't a product, but a strategy." As it turns out, ILM is likely to be both a strategy and a set of products. Just make sure you have fully thought out the first before you spend your hard-earned budget on the second.
4. EMC buying Legato, and then buying Documentum.
This marks EMC's true entry into the battle for the hearts and minds of open system IT shops, rather than just contending for the software revenue from captive EMC hardware accounts. It remains to be seen whether EMC will let the local subcultures at the newly purchased companies survive. Hopefully they will not go down the path so many other large companies have trodden when they bought up smaller players, redoing the way the companies do their business and in the process crushing most of the reason those companies were purchased in the first place.
5. A closer interrelationship between business process, data value and the way data is stored and serviced.
Managers have started to understand that all data is not of the same worth to their companies, and thus is not deserving of the same levels of service.
6. The arrival of Serial ATA (SATA) drives on the floor of the enterprise IT room.
These provide a cheaper alternative to SCSI and Fibre Channel drives, and are somewhat less reliable as they are tested to lesser performance and stress standards. Whether or not this "lowered standard" is in any way significant once you put these things in a RAID system is for you to decide, but I am willing to bet that it will prove cheaper to swap out a failed drive that has been striped than to make the investment in higher-priced devices.
7. The increasing reliance on companies to treat their IT departments as an opportunity to create competitive advantage.
Unfortunately, this often means that even though the demands for service levels have gone up, budgets have not kept pace. Expectations have often been high, but there has all to often been a shortfall when it comes to delivery.