So far, 2003 has been a pretty quiet year for the storage industry. But all that changes last week with EMC's introduction of its new Symmetrix system.
Sure, a new iteration of Symmetrix is a big deal, but it's really the announcement itself that's raising excitement levels. As one of the first big announcements of the year, EMC is striking the spark to fuel the storage industry competitive fires for 2003.
Indeed, the gloves are already starting to come off. With hopes of beating EMC to the punch, prior to the Symmetrix announcement both IBM Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems Corp. came out with enhancements to their high-end systems: IBM's Shark and HDS' Lightning. The enhancements were both targeted to dent EMC's position -- HDS attacked EMC on the capacity front, while IBM concentrated on openness.
HDS said it has doubled the capacity of the Lightning system from 64TBs to 128TBs by adding 146GB drives. Additionally, the system now boasts 64 Fibre Channel ports -- up from 32 ports -- and 32 FICON channels.
Meanwhile, IBM delivered the first step of its promise to make the Shark system more open. Big Blue released a standards-compliant interface that allows third-party storage management products to do LUN (logical unit number) creation, mapping, and masking on Shark. Other management controls are said to be in the works. Also, IBM expanded Linux support for mainframe customers, which should please open-source advocates.
So you see that things are finally getting going in the storage industry. And while the vendor battles are heating up, the IETF is also on the verge of ratifying the iSCSI standard after a long, weary, anticipation-filled period of time. Luckily, once that ratification happens, things should pick up -- an iSCSI-based array is already on the way. Startup EqualLogic last month revealed the architecture of its forthcoming modular, self-load-balancing array and says it will be generally available in the first half of the year. We'll be waiting and watching.
And we can't forget the software side of storage. Veritas, for one, tried to inject some sparks into what would otherwise be standard update news: The new version of its backup software product for Windows, Backup Exec 9.0, has close ties with Microsoft Exchange Server's file structure and sports a new browser-based administrative GUI that can come in handy when your storage administrator is on a business trip.
Is this a routine update? Probably so, but Veritas is quietly regrouping for more biting announcements. Take, for instance, the recently disclosed intent to acquire Precise Software. This company has a rich portfolio of storage management software, able to monitor the inner workings of enterprise applications from SAP, PeopleSoft, and Oracle, plus major relational databases on a variety of storage systems from HDS, HP, and IBM. In addition, the latest version of Precise's StorageCentral extends user quota control (with its disk space and management efforts savings) for Windows servers and Windows-based NAS devices to Network Appliance filers.
Now let's try to fill in the blanks and imagine a future storage management suite from Veritas that promises to pinpoint critical spots in major applications, databases, and storage systems to help optimize performance and corral abuses. That should trigger some interest.