Look to storage for future of computing

Storage trends such as increasing use of server appliances and virtualisation appear to be pointing the way for all enterprise computing systems.

Storage trends such as increasing use of server appliances and virtualisation appear to be pointing the way for all enterprise computing systems.

Dr Colin Boswell, of IT analyst firm Gartner Group Australia, says that when it comes to enterprise systems the market for dedicated server appliances will grow by 40%, driven by web servers, while general midrange server sales will drop off.

He says most New Zealand companies have far too many high-end servers for what they are doing and there will be a trend towards consolidation. The economic slowdown will add to this movement, he says.

Another trend big in the storage world and which will extend to the rest of the enterprise computing will be virtual resources, Boswell says. In storage virtualisation means that storage disk and tape distributed throughout the enterprise is pooled and seen as one resource by servers. Boswell says the same could be true of CPUs in the future.

Visiting US IT analyst Terry Shannon agrees. "What's happening in the SAN will extend to web and e-commerce. We'll see server utilities and if you can have a pool of storage, why not do the same thing with computing resources?

Shannon calls the concept "Son of SAN". "Major components to storage are advanced interconnects, high-performance CPUs and management. I/O at the moment is PCI but a new high-bandwidth interface technology, Infiniband, is coming. We'll be able to take multiple pools of computer resources and shift CPU capacity to meet demand."

Another trend, Boswell says, will be a surge in the number of client devices attaching to networks from outside the organisation. "By 2005 the number of client devices tied to the ubiquitous network will have multiplied by five and 40% of data will be stored outside the enterprise on notebooks computers and other devices. Synchronisation will be a major problem.

"Boswell also believes that as organisations start to engage in collaborative commerce, more ERP will be outsourced.

"By 2004 people will use ERP message brokers between them and their partners. A skills shortage will also lead to ERP application hosting.

"On Linux, Boswell says people see it as too expensive for a large organisation in terms of support costs.

"We're in a trough of disillusionment because of inflated expectations," he says. "But by 2004 [Linux] will come through as being useful in certain areas."

A Gartner survey in Australia and New Zealand found that 13% of organisations have a business process using Linux. A worldwide Gartner market forecast for 2005 of total operating systems put Windows NT/2000 at 33%, all Unix except Linux at 30% and Linux at 7%.

Boswell's "hot" list for high end servers is:
  • server consolidation,
  • IT solutions,
  • storage,
  • IA64,
  • Linux for specific applications,
  • direct channel,
  • service appliances.
The "not" list is:
  • dot-come startups driving server sales,
  • brand loyalty,
  • Linux in the enterprise,
  • anything proprietary.

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