According to IDC, storage needs grow an average of 50% to 100% annually. Other analysts put growth levels even higher. The usual answer has been to ensure enough capacity through over-provisioning -- i.e. throw more servers at the problem. This results in storage resources averaging a utilization rate of only about 30%.
This situation is compounded by a growing management/personnel headache. An SRC (Strategic Research Corp.) study found that over the next three years enterprise storage demand would increase seven-fold while the management resources needed would remain flat.
"Complex storage systems with out-of-control management costs have created an intense need for better Enterprise Storage Management (ESM) tools," asserts Michael Peterson, president of SRC.
The blame for this situation, though, can't be conveniently attributed to storage hardware vendors. Products such as Compaq Insight Manager (CIM), Dell OpenManage, and Hitachi High Command do a great job of managing vendor specific systems and, in some cases, in interoperating with some types of generic storage hardware.
What ends up happening, though, is that storage administrators end up having to understand dozens of tools: they want to see how RAID is running on their Dell servers, so they open up the Dell OpenManage screen; they want to view their Compaq RAID arrays, which means it's time to open up CIM; they want to check utilization, performance, and bandwidth levels on various systems, so they pull up numerous screens of various proprietary tools offered by BMC, EMC, and a host of others.
So to get anything done -- never mind understand the overall storage environment -- administrators must hop from console to console to configure, allocate, reallocate, and care for the various storage assets at their disposal. This often means going from building to building and system to system in order to back up, restore, mirror, or troubleshoot.
A seemingly basic upgrade in one department from DAS to NAS, for instance, can turn into a nightmare. Changes must be made to all backup, recovery, and business continuation/disaster recovery procedures. For backup alone, this means going to a different screen for every backup product in use in the enterprise -- in a surprisingly large number of companies, this can run from two to a half-dozen.
"Storage management is often an ad-hoc collection of disparate tools and predominantly independent device management utilities," reports Nancy Marrone, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Group.