Utility Computing Infiltrates the Enterprise Storage Sector

'Utility computing' seems to not only be one of the hottest buzzwords on the storage conference circuit, but also a concept that will force considerable change. Leslie Wood explores the topic and offers a glimpse of just how how pervasive the concept may become.
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New concepts that result in change are typically disruptive and costly when they enter the information infrastructure of our lives and businesses. The latest concept of 'utility computing' seems to not only be one of the 'hottest' buzzwords on the storage conference circuit, but also a concept that will force considerable change. However, even though it is beginning to gain acceptance -- and some experts believe that storage is the next logical step -- many experts believe that utility computing in the storage sector is at least a few years away from mainstream use.

"Over the past few years, physical storage has become almost as much of a commodity as the water that utilities carry," says Tom Fredrick, senior vice president at Precise SRM. Fredrick says technologies that allow the dynamic provisioning of storage help to complete the delivery of storage as a utility. "New technologies that provide policy-based management of storage content add a layer of intelligence to the storage -- making it more seamless to the user on the other end of the wall jack," he continues.

On the other hand, Rik Mussman, vice president of technology with Nexsan, believes that utility computing in the storage arena is still years away from mainstream use, although he does point out that utility computing in other areas, such as the remote storage of email and Web hosting, is quite common today and widely accepted.

Diamond Lauffin, senior executive vice president of Nexsan, says that the real question is not whether we have the technology available or the capability to deliver the concept of utility computing in the storage arena; the real question is one of social acceptance. "The United States has already embraced and turned itself into a service-based organizational model, long ago foregoing its position of being a manufacturing dynasty," he says.

"We see well-accepted examples in the decline of physical home answering machines. Remote voice mail services have supplanted home-based answering machines and allow ease of use and greater mobility. Cell phones have driven this even further. When have you ever picked up your VM on your cell phone from a physical answering device? Have you questioned whether this remote storage would work?"

Page 2: 'Charge Back' a Key to Utility Trend

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