Open standards key to managing e-business data

Venkat Subbarao, Senior VP, South and Southeast Asia for Computer Associates, shares his views on the future and possibility of hetrogeneous storage.

John Maloch Storage capacity is increasing, costs are dropping and data management requirements are exploding.

But from a customer’s perspective, the development of mass storage technologies is becoming less relevant once interoperability issues are resolved.

“We see the hardware side evolving with a focus on interoperability, and mass storage turning into more of a commodity item,” revealed Venkat Subbarao, senior VP, South and Southeast Asia for Computer Associates

He sees storage management as part of a greater set of comprehensive e-business solutions that manages e-business, whether as an individual solution or integrated into an end-to-end product offering.

And CA differentiates itself further by offering a broad, integrated suite of management solutions that is simply called “3 x 6”, addressing the areas of e-business process management, e-business information management; and e-business infrastructure management.

Across these three strategic categories are six key solution areas, comprising Enterprise Management, Security, Storage, e-Business Transformation and Integration, Portal and Knowledge Management and Predictive Analysis and Visualization.

Hence, he views storage as a critical corporate asset, where e-businesses (he meant companies) should focus more on what is stored, how to protect and manage it, and the best ways to extract value from it.

This means organizations must consider:
- How to align a storage strategy with business process, now and in the future
- Standardisation, ensuring they keep the number of storage system and device vendors to a minimum
- Consolidation, which is combining data as much as possible
- Distribution of storage where it is needed the most
- Control through policies and procedures that provide best practices for both users and the IT department
- Contingency and crisis planning
- Storage management software that lets the organization put minimum resources to managing the storage while integrating it into the entire e-business process. There is a new industry focus on software as a means to address a wide range of major storage functional issues, including capacity management and more robust interoperability.

Venkat acknowledges that storage interoperability involves a very complicated set of issues encompassing hundreds of vendors, many standards bodies and initiatives, and security and management, all of which must be aligned to provide the interoperability that meets the business requirements and resource limitations of end users.

Hence, the best route to achieving interoperability is through open industry standards that serve customer needs and to which vendors strictly adhere.

The industry is now starting to make an effort towards interoperability, such as the recently announced co-operation and the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is also supporting it.

“Alliances such as this will offer specific solutions that address certain customer needs, or be designed for certain vertical markets, but they won’t have a tremendous impact on the overall storage market,” he pointed.

Explaining further, he said that the storage market is growing too fast for such alliances to influence it, and the incredibly varied nature of e-businesses, and the storage requirements, strategies and existing resources behind them, makes the storage market vast and varied, to be dominated by specific alliances.

Rather, customers will still look for open systems that suit their individual requirements; one that can be integrated into their existing e-business environment, that can protect and manage their storage with a minimum of resources.

“The increased standardization of infrastructure, such as the trend towards an Internet Protocol infrastructure rather than a Fiber Channel infrastructure, is appealing to users – IP is ubiquitous, understood, and inexpensive, which forms the basis for initiatives such as Storage Over IP and storage service providers (SSPs),” he added.

He believes that one of the areas in which interoperability will happen first is through a common interface to perform configuration and management, regardless of devices.

CA’s ARCserve2000 already does that, delivering data protection for Windows NT/2000 environments including centralized management, assured virus-free backup/restore, SAN serverless backup and integrated fail-over with Microsoft Cluster Services.

He emphasized that interoperability is not just a reachable goal, it’s a necessary goal for the storage industry to flourish and ensure it delivers customers the benefits of vendor neutrality, reduced need for staff training, and investment protection for older hardware - all necessary in the long-term development of e-business.