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Storage Without Borders

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The storage industry has recently seen many new vendors make significant impacts on the industry as a whole. The Yankee Group predicts that today's storage systems making up the networked attached storage and storage area network markets will dramatically evolve over the next two to four years. However, managing multi-vendor SANs and creating storage environments without borders continue to be a key concern for IT organizations.

Numerous analysts' reports have shown that management is a key challenge in storage environments, and Peter Eicher, storage architect for FalconStor, says that a large percentage of the total cost of storage is in managing what you have as opposed to the actual purchase cost of the equipment.

"Managing storage environments becomes considerably more challenging in a multi-vendor SAN because you have different equipment that all works in different ways, even though they may be serving a similar purpose," says Eicher. Every time a new vendor device is added -- or sometimes even when a new model from the same vendor is added -- the complexity level increases, the amount of staff training required increases, and the chances of mistakes increase.

However, according to Mark Bradley, technology strategist with BrightStor Storage Solutions, even when proactivity is narrowed in a SAN environment, the complexity is still there. "Because most SANs are comprised of multiple vendor's products, issues of interoperability and central monitoring control always exist," says Bradley.

Having multi-vendor SANs holds the promise of bringing significant business benefits to an organization; however, like any other paradigm shift in technology, it requires a substantial financial investment in the process. So, how can managing multi-vendor SANs help IT managers simplify their storage networks and what is the effect of managing multi-vendor SANs on IT?

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