Before we take a look today at some of the technologies likely to drive enterprise storage purchasing over the next 12 months, first a word about the buying climate.
In 2005, budgets are likely to increase somewhat, but that doesn't mean that sales will be any easier. The role of enterprise IT is becoming inextricably linked to business process, and business-driven decision-making will be the order of the day. Expect business requirements to be the key influencers in all areas of IT purchasing. This will be particularly true when it comes to storage buying.
IT sales prospects will have stringent demands when it comes to payback on any investment (the payback calculation is the inverse of the ROI calculation). Vendors can anticipate a demand for a "payback horizon" of between two and six quarters on most storage investments, with a general rule being that the smaller the business (or source of the budget), the closer the payback period must be.
Given the above buying requirements, expect two key forces to influence storage purchasing. The first of these will be the criticality of uptime. The second will be an increasing drive to optimize the delivery of IT services.
"Uptime" equals the ability to do business. "Optimized IT services" equals the ability to do business efficiently. The importance of these concepts will be identifiable by the growing presence in IT rooms of the technologies that support them. As a result, expect the closely related areas of data grids, utility computing and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) to become increasingly important.
Grids, utility computing and ILM - when viewed collectively - address the challenges of both pervasive uptime and system optimisation.
Grids and utility create an on-demand environment that brings hardware and software assets online and offline as they are needed. Individual devices are seen collectively as virtualised "pools" of applications, storage, compute power, and network connectivity. Individual assets are provisioned from these pools as they are needed, and returned to the pool when processes no longer require them.
Because each asset is returned to the general pool when it is no longer needed, many users (or programs, or processes) can use a single asset.
The value of this to IT budgets cannot be overstated, because it means that IT managers can begin to look for around-the-clock value from their assets. ILM's contribution to all of this will be that the data resides on the most business-appropriate (another way of saying "cost-efficient") storage assets, and receives the most appropriate set of services.
If you believe that uptime and efficient use of assets are the keys to IT optimization (you had better), then it should not be hard to understand why the software that implements and supports such technologies will be important parts of IT buying. This will include not only the software that manages grid and ILM, but also the software that manages the infrastructure on which these technologies reside.
More on this next time.