As vendors pitch products such as storage management and virtualisation software, end users say few technologies measure up to their increasingly complex environments. And with the current IT spending slowdown, some are concerned there will be even less crucial technology development in the near future.
Marvin Walling, an engineer at Lockheed Martin Information Systems, said the job of managing several terabytes of data has become a complex configuration of storage boxes. What Walling said he wants now is "out of the box integration".
"We want seamless data storage," he said. "We want reliable backup and recovery and cost reductions. We want more for less."
Getting more for less has been a common theme at the Storage Networking World conference in the US this week. IT managers said that cost cutting has forced them to view projects from a total-cost-of-ownership and return-on-investment approach. Most are turning to software developers to help address those issues.
Steve Duplessie, an analyst at research firm Enterprise Storage Group said most storage vendors simply don't consider how their one or two products affect a large enterprise's overall IT infrastructure.
Kurt Bahrs, a disaster recovery specialist at Aetna Incorporated, said he wants a tool that can monitor his data end-to-end and do backup and recovery, whether it's on a global SAN or a local-area network.
"I want to get away from NT and mid-range storage boxes," he said. "I want to put everything on a unified storage to save on my footprint space and cut down on recovery time."
Besides the need to find new solutions despite an ever-shrinking IT budget, Bahrs said another problem is that there are too many storage vendors with proprietary solutions that won't tie into his existing systems.
Several top technology vendor CEOs were critical of their own industry, questioning the production of new products at a break-neck pace without first determining the needs of IT managers.
"We hardly know anything about Fibre Channel, and yet we're lurching forward into IP storage, Infiniband and my favourite, virtualisation," said Peter van Oppen, chairman and CEO of Advanced Digital Information. "The customer is in a chaotic, messy, sloppy environment."
StorageTek CEO Patrick Martin said confusion has been created because of a lack of standards and planning by the vendor community. "You as users don't leave it up to vendors to develop those standards," he told the audience.