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Interoperability is the greatest challenge in building a storage area network, according to a roundtable of US IT executives. It's hard to get Unix, mainframe and Windows NT apps working together on the same SAN, and any vendor which can do this easily, could find the world beating a path to its door (or a takeover offer from EMC).

The brave new world of SANs is just that - new, the roundtable, moderated by Sage Research, reveals. Most SANs are recent, with cost savings the major justification for implementation. Half of the roundtable of 10 "hi-tech enterprise decision makers" deploy storage virtualization at their company, pointing to improved utilisation and reduced costs.
However, there are "concerns about complexity and the ability to handle varying devices and applications".

The roundtable also supplies a snapshot for current MIS department thinking over IP-based SANs. "Some of them believe in IP cost savings; others felt fiber channel costs had come down so much it was irrelevant. The prevailing attitude is to wait for widespread IP adoption before making the move."

Wait and see is the prevailing mood for budget-setting for 2003, a "slim" year, according to the participants. But there is a "pressing need for software to manage storage assets more efficiently".

Enterprise storage was a big play in the tech VC boom years of the late 90s/early 2000, with 250+ US start-up storage firms alone getting funding. Some will survive, some will be bought, but the majority will go bust. But will there be a big winner? Where is the interoperability-enabling, ease of use-enhancing, storage asset-managing software genius when the industry needs it?

The Sage Technology Storage Area Networking Needs Roundtable report is available here (cost $500). ®

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