While the trend towards storage portals is a welcome one, there is still a long way to go if organizations are to regain full control of their storage resources. What is needed is complete automation of storage functions. Storage management vendors are working on this, but solutions are not yet available.
According to IDC's North, "Key areas of dynamic provisioning and operational workflow will provide order to storage chaos."
Workflow engines make it possible to automate the many tasks necessary to manage storage. Each individual step in a complex task is captured and recorded by the workflow engine.
This technology is augmented by defining the best practices for specific tasks so that operators can tell the portal what to do and then have the software take care of the tasks automatically. Many aspects of the mundane and time-consuming aspects of backup/restore, for example, will soon be able to be programmed automatically.
Another intriguing advance is dynamic provisioning, which ensures that storage capacity is always available. Take the example of adding new storage to a SAN. This typically requires extensive operational procedures and a large amount of time to install, configure, and change the storage applications, devices, and products.
The goal of dynamic provisioning is to take care of all this without operator involvement. It will automatically discover new storage capacity, configure it appropriately, and move data accordingly without the administrator having to involve himself or herself in the details of where the capacity is physically located or its low-level configuration.
Eventually, these features will be incorporated into existing storage portals. While that probably won't mean plug-and-play storage than a child could manage, it is at the very least a step toward the establishment of a layer of enterprise storage automation — a step that represents greater freedom from the constraints of the storage features of a particular vendor, as well as the hope of relief from the complexity of the many competing storage systems.
This feature originally appeared on Enterprise IT Planet.