With network storage technologies constantly improving and developing, businesses are always seeking new ways to educate themselves on the best ways to manage ever growing amounts of data. This education comes in many forms and from many sources, but one organization that is generating a great deal of interest is the Network Storage University (NSU).
Developed in 1999 to aid professionals in keeping up with the ever-changing storage arena, NSU is the brainchild of Quantum, supplier of DLT tape automation systems. Today, along with other industry partners including Cisco, Network Appliance and QLogic, they have created a free education forum specifically tailored to educating people on network storage topics.
According to Natalie Amick, Quantum's business alliance programs manager, the vision behind NSU was to bring the network storage message to the public in a forum where they would be able to create working solutions from the knowledge gained at 1-day, free-of-charge, workshops/seminars. "We wanted to bring together leading-edge companies in the technology industry to provide end users with the opportunity to learn about the latest technologies and where network storage fits into the overall scheme," she said. "We designed the workshops to use real-world, working solutions as examples and show infrastructures, architectures, and planning processes involved in these systems," she continued.
NSU has offered 24 courses since its inception and according to Amick has budgeted 12 seminars/workshops per quarter or 48 seminars per year. The courses are offered in various cities throughout the United States and include presenters from each end of the storage arena.
The next course being offered is IP Storage: Extending the Enterprise. According to Jon William Toigo, a well-known authority on both storage network technology and its business applications, as well the keynote speaker for the seminar, the course is designed to explain IP Storage and how it will affect the current storage landscape.
According to leading analysts, iSCSI, a protocol almost synonymous with IP storage, is coming and with it comes benefits such as extension of current SCSI environments, storage consolidation, and connectivity for disparate SAN islands. "iSCSI promises all this while leveraging the ever-popular IP infrastructure, thus making data sharing easier, more efficient, and less expensive," says Toigo.
In addition to delivering the keynote speech, Toigo will moderate a roundtable discussion among the vendors. "There's a lot of hype behind IP Sans and the 'marketecture' surrounding IP storage," says Toigo. "I am hoping to cut through all of that hype and help the end user understand this emerging technology because as far as I am concerned none of this IP storage is really ready for prime time yet," he continued. "Because there are so many unanswered questions surrounding IP storage, my goal is to help the end user get a grasp of what's really ready for prime time and what isn't," he says. "Besides, he concluded, the seminars are always offered at really nice hotels, the food is great, and the parking, and the seminar are free."
iSCSI is just one of the IP storage protocols slated to be discussed during the IP Storage: Extending the Enterprise seminar. Toigo says that other new protocols such as SOIP, FCIP, and iFCP, will also be discussed. He also says that the presenters will share their views of this new technology and how the use of IP storage can benefit the end user as well as contribute to their company's bottom line.
Toigo sees the NSU as a good vehicle to educate end users because most of the other storage seminars being offered are only able to provide a single vendor viewpoint. "The storage industry is a target-rich environment and there's a lot of stuff to talk about," he says. "I know where the 'pain' is for the end users who are trying to make sense of it all," he continued. Toigo says the seminars offered at NSU are not only vendor-neutral, but offer a balanced and argumentative presentation.
So, this is all well and good, but with vendor neutrality being high on the agenda, what's the benefit for Quantum? According to Amick everyone who attends the seminars is a potential buyer for Quantum. "Hopefully, when the end user is ready to buy, they will call a Quantum representative in their area," says Amick. NSU, says Amick, relies on contributions from its corporate sponsors to fund these seminars. "While similar programs may charge a fee, we are committed to keeping these informative seminars as no charge events," she continued.
The last seminar was on Disaster Recovery and ran through June of this year. Amick says that NSU had over 4,600 registrants and the average number of attendees per event was 88. And, if you register for the seminar but are unable to attend, the folks at Quantum will automatically send you the materials that were handed out at the seminar. Surveys of those who have attended NSU events show that people rate the According to statistics obtained from post event surveys, attendees have rated their NSU experience as over 8 out of 10.
Amick says the seminars are designed for IT/IS managers, Systems, LAN/WAN and Back-Up Administrators, Web Masters, Business Owners/Company Presidents/CEOs, Business Administrators/CFOs, Office Managers, and IT/IS support staff.
According to Jim Schoenberger, a principal at Legal Tech, he found the NSU seminar to be a valuable use of his time. "The information was pertinent, timely, and well presented," he said on a post event survey. "I attend a few events of this sort each year and NSU has certainly raised the bar," he continued.
The format for most of the events is basically the same. The upcoming IP Storage seminar will begin with registration and breakfast which is followed by a five minute welcome and overview from a Quantum spokesperson. Following that is Toigo's keynote address and then the sponsors give their presentations. After a short break, the presentations continue and then the attendees get another break. After that are the roundtable discussion (moderated by Toigo) and then a complimentary lunch and exhibits. Toigo says he plans to 'grill' the presenters and also allow attendees to ask the 'tough' questions themselves.
For more information about the seminars, visit the NSU Web site at http://www.networkstorageu.com