As more routine storage functions are automated, and as businesses focus more on service levels rather than on the mundane tasks required to achieve them, the task of storage administration will move "from a pure storage administrator to maybe a DBA or maybe a policy administrator," Reichman predicts. "Instead of storage administrators doing only storage, expect to see more application administrators managing the infrastructure, [with] some of what was the server and storage team moving into those application or workload teams."
However, says Shahin Pirooz, CTO at hosted services provider CenterBeam, "you still need a core team of people to configure the orchestration" and build the infrastructure for higher-level administrators to manage.
Customer demands will eventually force vendors to provide more complete orchestration. Until then, CIOs who are evaluating storage management tools should find out which specific storage and hypervisor platforms the vendors support, determine which functions or applications they focus on and, above all, assess the total cost of ownership and ease of use of their offerings.
As Conway says, "I'd rather have three highly capable and easy-to-use tools than one tool that doesn't do as much as the three and is harder to manage."
6 tough questions
When choosing a storage orchestration tool, Greg Schulz, senior adviser at the Server and StorageIO Group, recommends asking the following questions:
1. Does it enable the setup and scheduling of snapshots, replication, backup and other functions that ensure data availability?
2. How does the platform coordinate with other technologies, such as dynamic path management, that provide load management as application loads change?
3. How will the platform's performance and price be affected as your company adds more servers, storage and networks?
4. Will it be easy to install the vendor's system and integrate it into your company's environment?
5. How well does the vendor's platform integrate with your existing service catalog?
6. Can the platform recognize and comply with your policies on security, regulatory compliance and quality of service?
-- Robert L. Scheier
Scheier is a veteran technology writer. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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