Attendees value storage analysis

The "open" storage software covered in seminars by EMC last week is still not open enough for some.

The “open” storage software covered in seminars by EMC last week is still not open enough for some.

“We have to use Unisys systems as well, and the software they’ve got at the moment doesn’t address that need,” said a representative of EDS, who did not wish to be named.

The seminar was useful, not so much for the account of EMC’s technology as for the business analysis that went before it, he said. Kevin McIsaac and Graham Penn had highlighted the trends in storage demand and given some useful indications of what the questions in a storage manager’s mind should be.

Would it send them out to buy EMC products? EDS is a large customer of EMC already, he said, and the potential of these offerings would be taken into account in the normal planning cycle.

A representative of the NZ Defence Force likewise found the consultants’ presentations the more helpful part of the seminar. They gave the audience some of the messages that they should be giving their managers, he said, and laid the stress on business-oriented planning.

McIsaac counselled IT managers to offer their users an “à la carte menu” of storage offerings, with pricing, per GB per month, balanced against the degree of risk and the time to recover from a failure or to respond to requests for increased storage or reconfiguration.

“Don’t give them the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet for a flat price, or they’ll come back for three desserts. People always do that at buffets, but you never see them do it in a restaurant where they’re conscious of the cost of everything.”

Setting several service levels would lead managers to think about whether an application deserved “platinum” standard storage provision or merely “bronze” standard. “So often the business hasn’t measured these [scales of need], or thought about them. We have to make the business responsible for ensuring they receive an appropriate quality of storage.” The storage manager is left with the task of optimising against a fixed service-level agreement rather than having to fight individual fires.

Defence had experienced a storage failure the day before — “the usual thing; a mirror volume just disappeared” — and an EMC representative was busy explaining to the Defence people how that, of course, could have been more easily remedied with the new software on offer.

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