You can easily see the parallels between the challenges those pilots face and that of old-school storage administrators who must maintain "intelligent" storage devices, and it doesn't take a genius to conclude this is where we're headed. With IT budgets shrinking and our data exploding, we can't really afford to micromanage every disk volume anymore. If you're one of the "crusty old captains" mentioned in the blog I linked to above, transitioning from a traditional "these disks in this shelf make up this LUN, which gets assigned to this server" SAN to a virtualized SAN where your LUN could be virtually anywhere constitutes a huge leap of faith -- one that many of us still don't want to make.
The evolution from a world where careful thought and detailed design work was necessary for a successful storage implementation to one where the storage sort of figures it out on its own will be difficult for a lot of people. In addition, it's likely that some attempts to get this automation to work properly will fail in ways that are hard to diagnose and equally hard to correct. I have yet to get my hands on Dell's XVS line (keep your eyes peeled for a Test Center review in the near future), but I'm willing to bet it comes in a black box.
This article, "Black-box storage: What's it doing now?," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Matt Prigge's Information Overload blog and follow the latest developments in storage at InfoWorld.com.