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"When complexity grows, costs grow. It's really about reducing management costs," says Bradley. Bradley believes that the high costs are in the use of poor tools, the additional hours required to manage the more complex environment and the expense of necessarily highly trained personnel. He says that the best effect that can be had is streamlining operations and simplifying the complex, because this saves in maintenanve hours and and makes it possible to apply expensive personnel to tasks that offer a better use of their systems expertise.
Eicher seems to think that by using techniques such as storage virtualization and network-based storage management, IT managers can bring a level of consistency to their daily management challenges. "For example, an IT shop may have five different models of disk devices. That means there are five sets of tools that may need to be used on a daily basis, which creates a tremendous learning curve for their staffs, often leading to confusion and mistakes," says Eicher. "But if that same five-model disk environment is virtualized, then everything looks the same from the most basic standpoint -- that is, the computer screen you look at to get your work done," he continued.
With IT spending at a premium, enterprise and service providers' customers should be examining storage systems based on their utility in a building block approach, their manageability, and especially their cost effectiveness. With the continuing need to control IT costs and manage storage more efficiently, how does managing multi-vendor SANs and their resources help IT departments accomplish these goals?
According to Bradley, despite what many say, SAN and other storage networking technologies have not yet had huge deployments in most IT environments. He believes that much of this has been due to interoperability issues at various levels. "These issues are being resolved, and because IT storage equipment spending is likely to increase after the past two years of slowdown, to fill the capacity gap, the next big target is to enable ease of management," says Bradley.
Eicher says that a more efficient management environment will allow employees to get more projects done and roll out more applications. "Since so many IT shops are overworked already, the idea of suddenly cutting staffs in half is not realistic. What is realistic is that work gets done faster, product offerings get on line faster, and your competitive edge increases," he says.