Whats stalling storage virtualization?

One of the hottest trends in IT currently is server virtualization. Led by VMware Inc., the market has broken through the barr...

One of the hottest trends in IT currently is server virtualization. Led by
VMware Inc., the market has broken through the barrier of
bleeding-edge/early-adopter limbo to mainstream-acceptance status.
This isnt a situation where technology is being pushed through vendor hype.
The ability to dramatically diminish server sprawl and its associated costs is
so significant that organizations are demanding it not just for areas such as
development, quality assurance and testing, but for full production as well.
As a storage guy, I must ask the question, Why hasnt storage virtualization
taken off in the same way? The problems associated with server and storage
management are remarkably similar: lots of devices to manage, poor resource
utilization, and high consumption of data center power, cooling and floor
space. So clearly the need exists.
For a technology to take hold, it must, among others also:
lBe conceptually easy to understand.
lDemonstrate sufficient maturity and robustness to meet production standards.
lOffer a clear payback.
It also doesnt hurt to have a loyal and vocal chorus of successful early
While server virtualization meets all of these criteria, storage virtualization
unfortunately doesnt at least not yet. While the potential value is easy to
understand, technical maturity and the potential for savings remain cloudy.
Just to be clear, while there is lots of virtualization within arrays, Im
referring to storage virtualization at the network layer. A handful of products
have evolved over several generations and developed market niches providing
specific functions, most notably data migration and network-attached storage
global namespaces. Others still mainly offer future promises.
Depending on the environment, virtualization can either reduce or add to the
level of management complexity. Concern with finger-pointing and vendor
nonsupport of virtualized configurations is another problem. Confusion over
competing technology approaches, lack of standards and fear of vendor lock-in
are additional deterrents.
Server virtualization has succeeded because, relatively speaking, it is less
disruptive. It doesnt require hardware replacement or new operating systems,
and unlike storage, it doesnt require a massive data-migration effort to undo
if it doesnt work out. Most importantly, its largely transparent to
I do believe storage virtualization will get there someday. Unfortunately for
many environments, someday is not yet here.

Even if it aint fixed, dont break it
By Jerome Wendt, Computerworld (US online)

Vendors often ask me, "What is it that prompts a storage manager to buy a new
product for his storage network?" While I dont profess to know and understand
why each one buys a product, a good place to start is by understanding why
storage managers do not introduce new products into their storage-area network
Storage managers do have an interest in lowering their organizations costs,
exploring new technologies or improving efficiencies. However their role is
akin to the guy who manages your local utility operations. If everything
operates as it is supposed to, he is doing his job. If he takes a chance and
then something breaks, guess who ends up on the chopping block?
Yet the challenges go beyond that for storage managers. Managing SANs where you
have complete control over purchasing decisions, implementations and operations
is difficult enough. The tools that track what servers are where, how the SAN
is growing, who is using what and where the data resides are still costly to
deploy and require dedicated people to manage the tools and interpret the data.
Unfortunately, that is only a small part of the equation. Rapidly changing
storage technologies, corporate consolidations and acquisitions, and other
managers with storage purchasing authority all contribute to an environment
where control is low and the expectations high. Then, if they do keep all of
the balls in the air, no one appreciates it.
So to reach storage managers, start slow, understand their environment and
identify where risks are low and paybacks are high. With new products come new
risks, and with storage managers having little to gain from climbing out on a
ledge, vendors need to first make sure that they have done all they can do to
ensure their customer experiences a safe landing.

Race condition
aBy Sharky, Computerworld (US online)

user security in this company depends on electronic certificates and in this
environment, they expire every two years.
"Users start getting notified 90 days prior to the expiration that the
certificate will expire, and the notification includes a date," fish says. "We
also enforce password expiration at 90-day intervals. Users start getting
notified about this about 15 days prior to the actual expiration."
One morning fish walks in to find a frantic voice mail from a sales guy who
cant get into his e-mail. Fish returns the call and determines that the sales
guy has been getting certificate expiration notices, but "just clicked whatever
made the thing go away."
"I go through the recertification process and tell him to wait 15 minutes for
the server to pick it up," says fish. "And if he cant log in after that, to
give me another call.
"I get another call. This time he says its telling him his password expired. I
ask if hes gotten any notifications about that and he hesitates before saying
hes been canceling those, too.
"I walk him through resetting his password. He gets an error that says You are
not authorized to access this server.
"He had to log in to pick up the new certificate. He couldnt log in until he
changed his password. He couldnt change his password until he got the new

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