Like the rest of the world, InfoWorld readers are spending a little less and expecting a lot more from their technology. That message comes across loud and clear in the results of this year's survey of readers who are involved in evaluating or purchasing storage solutions. Rather than increasing their investment in storage, our respondents seem determined to get more from what they've already got.
That hardware spending has fallen slightly should come as no surprise. With planned 2004 storage expenditures still averaging nearly $1.2 million dollars per year, according to our survey, it's only natural that companies would seek to understand how their money is spent before opening their coffers for the next truckload of new devices and technologies. But evaluating IT storage expenditures accurately may be easier said than done.
Today, storage administrators fight an uphill battle. In most large organizations, managing storage networks has become a nightmarish job, where the hungry ogre of demand devours terabytes of capacity and gigabits of speed with terrifying regularity. The root of the problem is clear: It is difficult to size storage by itself because business and performance requirements are inherited from other areas and applications such as databases, ERP, and CRM. Storage choices affect the overall performance and cost of computing, which in turn creates intricate chicken-and-egg problems.
Sizing Up Capacity
The intertwined relationship between storage and applications is nothing new, but networked storage gives rise to increasingly challenging problems. Right-sizing capacity calls for an aggregate view of the needs of application stakeholders across the organization. It's almost enough to make you nostalgic for the simplicity of DAS (direct attached storage), where storage belongs to a single box and operating system.
Networked storage has opened the door to almost unlimited scalability, but it has also widened the gap between two separate views of company data, from the OS (file-level) or storage (block-level) perspectives. The popularity of NAS appliances comes from their OS friendliness, but NAS devices must still overcome some of the limitations of the old DAS approach (see "Network attached storage scales up").
The difficulty in harnessing new storage technology is surely one reason that our respondents' are making the prudent decision to do more with less. Yet many of those surveyed still have unmet storage demands -- and vendors are steering their offerings to where demand is highest.
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