Storage management a black hole

Local offerings “non-existent”.

Enterprises are being stranded by a lack of managed storage offerings and a shortage of IT skills according to experts.

Storage management has become harder than ever with tightening regulatory requirements, sophisticated Web applications and virtualization.

Rob Stirling, managing director of storage vendor Orchesys and former local executive director of Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), said high-end storage management offerings are “virtually non-existent”.

“Enterprises are used to having everything managed and monitored with feedback and audits, but this just doesn't exist in storage [despite] its growth,” Stirling said.

“Many organisations don't know how much capacity they have, so they keep throwing boxes into their storage which is cheap, but causes thermal problems in data centres, and impacts things like recovery times and tape backups.”

The lack of outsourcing offerings a is global “black hole”, according to Stirling. He said most managed storage services offer little more than warranty and helpdesk, although he conceded sophisticated management tools from vendors such as EMC and Hewlett Packard are making the job easier.

Stirling said a NetApp storage architect told last year's US Storage Networking World audience that more than 80 percent of the storage its sells is supplied on the edge, without a management contract. “The management tools, methodology and experts method just haven't been available” he said. “It's easier to sell bucket loads of terabytes and worry about storage later.”

The problem, according to IBRS analyst Dr Kevin McIsaac, is more about getting the right staff, tools and processes rather than outsourcing storage management.

“I see businesses with a lot of storage distributed across their datacentres in very distributed environments that are throwing terabytes at the problem and might not have the right staff and processes,” McIsaac said.

“One way to solve the problem is to give it away, but that's not what many organisations want. They could benefit greatly from getting experienced staff in or have a third party help them part time or remotely.”

McIsaac said the Australian market lacks such services, and said vendor offerings are too small to offer economies of scale.

“[The vendors] can offer maybe a couple of good people, but they do not have a large-scale pool of talent,” he said.

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