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In Part I of Utility Computing Pioneers, we discussed storage service providers, an early attempt at utility computing, and lessons from that experiment that might apply to current utility computing efforts. In Part 2, we will address some of the other issues that prompted so many SSPs to radically change their business models, and what the future may hold for storage on demand.
Many once thought that purchasing storage as a utility meant that investment dollars could be stretched further because capital investments did not have to be made in storage infrastructure, and additional workers did not have to be hired to manage it. However, those assumptions have since been challenged, and the rise of cheaper, modular storage has made it easier for companies to do their own utility storage, thus reducing the need for outside SSPs.
Eric Schott, director of product management with EqualLogic, says that he does not believe that outsourcing storage to an SSP would actually lower the cost of doing business. "Outsourcing storage is a complex and risky decision," says Schott. He believes that storage maintains and protects a company's vital assets, and while some specific IT applications may be outsourced, there are many that businesses need to keep in-house due to the importance of maintaining control.
IT departments are continually bringing new applications online, upgrading systems and procedures to increase the productivity of the entire company. "IT departments want complete control of their data to ensure that they can respond to business needs, changing systems, applications and partners as needed," Schott says. The outsourced storage model can restrict and add complexity to what is a sensitive and dynamic process, he says.
Schott says that provisioning storage as a utility is about easier growth and management of storage, and since there are now affordable, enterprise-quality solutions available that are easy to install, use and scale, there is no need to outsource such a vital part of a company's IT operation.
Eran Farajun, vice president of business development at Asigra, agrees that storage on the whole is now getting cheaper to buy. "However, managing storage still costs more than buying it," he adds, "but primary disk storage is getting easier to do and thus less expensive."
The transition to storage as a utility can be intricate and difficult, but the end result can be a more responsive data storage management system, one that is designed with the appropriate infrastructure equipment.