Enterprise storage is at a crossroads. For a decade, IT organizations have been creating independent groups to oversee the various infrastructure components they are charged with managing: Server, network, storage, database, data center, backup, desktop, mainframe. This made sense, since each discipline required specialized skills and focus. Each area could concentrate on delivering the best service in their respective areas, and together they could serve the goals of enterprise applications and the business.
But times are changing. Virtualization of servers, networks, and storage has re-mixed these areas, exemplified by the recent introductions of VMware's Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS) concept and Cisco's Universal Computing System (UCS) hardware. This change is hitting every area of IT development: EMC, NetApp, HDS, and the rest are focusing on virtualization-capable storage; Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, QLogic, Intel, and Broadcom are focusing on converged I/O over Ethernet; Microsoft, Citrix, IBM, and Sun (soon owned by Oracle) are developing their own virtualization platforms.
At the same time, the Internet is challenging the dominance of the data center itself in the form of cloud computing. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are racing to an early lead, hosting custom applications in the cloud, while Salesforce.com and many others continue their success providing shared applications. Storage in the cloud is a breakout success as well, with Nirvanix, Amazon, and others providing managed storage services to developers, OEMs, and the enterprise. Each of these cloud services differ in detail, but they share their impact on the data center: By offering innovative features and low price points, they provide a solid alternative for many corporate applications.
What is the IT decision-maker to do? Should the organization continue to build in-house infrastructure? Should a "virtualize everything" strategy be adopted? Which applications should be moved to the cloud? And how can a business case be created to investigate and justify these moves? This blog examines these very questions, with a focus on storage. Stay tuned!