Lack of Legacy Infrastructure to Inhibit Adoption of SANs
A lack of legacy technology and infrastructure in countries such as China has also proven to be a facilitator for adoption of advanced technologies. In China, for example, the lack of pervasive landline phone systems has accelerated the adoption of cell phones and wireless technology. Unhampered by investments in older systems, Chinese businesses and institutions can build highly efficient infrastructures based on state-of-the-art technologies. As a consequence, SANs are quickly infiltrating Chinese industries, meeting little resistance from entrenched direct-attached storage (DAS) installations.
In the U.S. and Europe, by contrast, extensive deployments of applications on DAS often present an obstacle to additional investments in SAN technology, even when the customer recognizes that SANs have a much better long-term return on investment (ROI). Customers must sometimes wait until DAS investments have been written off the books (or come to the end of a lease) before authorizing new spending on more efficient SAN solutions.
Higher Education and Lower Cost of Living
Support for higher education in Asia is also an accelerator for adoption of advanced technologies. Despite efforts to simplify SAN implementation and management, SANs remain a complex architecture and require enhanced skill sets for proper design, implementation, and support. On a trip to China, I was fortunate to work with a value-added reseller (VAR) whose entire staff held advanced doctoral and masters degrees, ranging from computer science to advanced mathematics. State-sponsored higher education, which generates a huge pool of technical talent, is in stark contrast to university opportunities in the U.S., which tend to be prohibitively expensive, very competitive at the graduate level, and grossly under-funded in terms of scholarships and grants.
A lower cost of living in some parts of Asia and India has spawned new outsourcing for SAN technology development, particularly embedded software and SAN management applications. In India, for example, U.S. vendors have taken advantage of lower wages and created their own Indian development centers. Others are leveraging third-party application development companies in India to supplement internal projects.
At a recent storage conference in Mumbai (Bombay), I was approached by a half dozen third-party development companies about outsourcing opportunities. Although outsourcing is just capitalism doing its normal, unattractive job of getting more for less, the positive outcome is that the local programmers and developers gain additional practical experience that will enhance their value over time and make them a key component of technology evolution.