The changing rules

An interesting phenomenon is hitting the storage industry, one that scarcely has anything to do with technology. The buzzwords this time are solutions and services.

To wit, last month Storage Technology Corp. -- a tape vendor, among other trades -- made overtures about new services and solutions that would address enterprises' individual data protection needs. In that vein, the company will put together approximately 10 services packages that combine disk, tape, and networking technologies.

It is finally becoming clear to vendors that there are various levels of data importance to enterprises and that they don't want to pay the same for each application. Various price points are needed based on the importance of the data being stored. For instance, a storage solution for e-mail will have different needs than one for a business-continuity or disaster-recovery application.

Speaking of disaster-recovery solutions, Quantum Corp., another tape manufacturer, is leading the recently formed EBSI (Enhanced Backup Solutions Initiative) to promote creation of data protection systems that are more attuned to customers' demands, faster, and easier to implement.

It's interesting to note that the founding members of EBSI -- Atempo, Legato Systems, Network Appliance, OTG Software, and QLogic, in addition to Quantum -- are stressing the importance of defining a vendor-neutral model for backup solutions that combine disk drives, backup software, and tapes to offer faster backup and painless deployment. For now, vendors will help their customers migrate to new solutions and move existing storage devices to apps that require less sophistication.

While the EBSI initiative is reaching out for more partners and is encouraging end-user involvement, some vendors are proposing their own enhanced backup solutions. StorServer, for instance, has a line of backup appliances that combine essentially a tape library, a NAS appliance, and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager backup software with a powerful system of rules and unmanned schedules.

The result is spectacular: hands-off backups that automatically fly data from the client to the NAS appliance and then to tape, eventually creating redundant copies and consolidating data according to retention criteria. Sure, every now and then someone has to move those media to an outside vault or replace them with scratch volumes. However, with a properly dimensioned unit, those manual activities are minimized; and should you ever need to restore a file, it will be a snappy disk-to-disk copy.

Are you willing to pay more for enhanced solutions or services that make your data protection faster and less vulnerable to human errors? Storage vendors are betting that you are, for the sake of your business.

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More about AtempoIBM AustraliaLegato SystemsNetAppOTG SoftwareQLogicQuantumStorServerTivoli

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