Just-In-Time For Storage Networking

Information advantages do not last as long as they used to. But, while the basic building blocks of "just-in-time" have been created, the complete integration of systems and storage software and hardware is still several years away.

Successful salespeople will tell you they would rather be lucky than good. As it turns out, some salespeople always seem to be luckier than everybody else. The most successful salespeople are very good at their trade and know how to take advantage of good luck when they see it. In reality, they have developed better instincts for being in the right place at the right time with the right resources.

Good timing is important in nearly all aspects of business today. The Internet has flattened the playing field by providing information quickly. It is more difficult than ever to know something that a competitor doesn't. Information advantages are important, but they do not last nearly as long as they used to. Therefore, it's imperative that workers today stay connected to the information faucet that feeds their jobs.

It's A Major Trend In Today's Industry
Just-in-time information processing is a major trend in business today. Business managers typically find factual business metrics to be more useful than opinions when making day-to-day decisions. The challenge is to identify, measure, gather, and report that information as quickly and accurately as possible. Of course, if one cannot access the data needed to make the best decisions, the business will suffer and become less efficient. That is the downside of becoming dependent on information processing, and such is the nature of business in the information age.

So, to achieve stability and reliability of data, access to it must be guaranteed. In essence, this is what storage networking is all about — ensuring data can be accessed when it is needed to support the business process. While many technology products make similar promises, the fact of the matter is that storage networking is a fundamental enabler of high-availability data access. However, this intersection of just-in-time business and storage networking technology has a long way to go to achieve the availability required at a price that is affordable. The basic building blocks have been created, but the complete integration of systems and storage software and hardware is still several years away.

There's Good News And Bad News
The good news for VARs and systems integrators is there will be opportunities to help customers implement technology in ways that are valuable to them. The bad news is that there will be many potential pitfalls along the way. Promises will be made that cannot be kept. There may be terrifying moments when those involved wonder if the data they were trying to protect has been lost instead. At such moments, it may indeed be better to be lucky than good. But, such situations can be avoided if one has a solid grasp of the technology and the skills to manipulate it.

Attaining an expert skill level with storage networking technology, however, is not necessarily easy. Today, there is a lack of course material, books, and Web resources available. Vendors will try to educate the market with their visions and expectations, but these attempts are usually not completely objective and open-minded.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (www.snia.org) provides the resources to help customers, vendors, and channel partners learn about storage networking education opportunities and programs. In addition, it is anticipated that specialized training companies will emerge that will attempt to educate the market through the transition to storage networking. The value of education in this industry will be very high and will require people with a great deal of systems knowledge to develop and deliver it.

Storage networking is a fundamental enabling technology that is changing the ways data processing works. It is a foundation technology for the information age that will see a great deal of innovation over the next five years. Expect to witness the coming and going of many kinds of systems, networks, and storage hardware and software that attempt to address market needs.

Competitive Wins — The Reward
The most successful VARs and systems integrators in this field will be those who get the best education and learn to take a total systems approach to storage network implementations. This will not be easy, but it is certainly achievable with drive and dedication. The reward for this hard work and vigilance will be a significant skills advantage that translates into competitive wins and new business opportunities. The losers will call it luck, but the winners will know it was skill and hard work – with just a small amount of destiny.

Marc Farley, San Castle Technologies