FEATURES & COMMENTARY
Orlando, FLA. — IBM senior vice president and group executive of its Storage Systems Group, Linda Sanford, issued a challenge to the industry’s storage vendors to put aside their differences and work together toward open standards and interoperability in a keynote address at the Storage Networking World conference in Orlando, Florida.
Asserting that storage networking will never reach its full potential without open standards and interoperability, Ms. Sanford underscored the importance of interoperability, not only for devices that work with multiple servers, but also with all other storage solutions, devices, applications and services.
“Let’s put aside our differences and work together, collaboratively,” Ms. Sanford said during her keynote address at the industry’s premier conference event of 2000. “I pledge today that IBM will do everything in its power to help develop the technology and the partnerships crucial to making interoperability a reality.”
This was Ms. Sanford’s first public forum since the elevation of IBM’s Storage Systems Group to a separate business unit missioned with serving customers as their storage demands grow due to the infrastructure demands wrought by e-business. Ms. Sanford believes that this is only the beginning of the storage journey. As storage and networking converge, and as data scales to unprecedented heights due to billions of connected devices, new capabilities for storage networking will be needed. New partnerships and technologies will continue to drive this fast growing and extremely dynamic industry, which is projected to grow to $53 billion by 2003, according to IDC.
Ms. Sanford pointed to several industry initiatives as examples of technology providers coming together to seek common solutions to e-business requirements. In July, IBM and Compaq agreed to adhere to and implement open standards for storage, make their hardware portfolios interoperable and mutually sell select products including IBM’s Shark Enterprise Storage Server for the high-end customers and Compaq’s VersaStor server in the mid-market. IBM also has emphasized that one of the strongest rationales for the alliance with Compaq was to exert leadership in galvanizing the storage industry towards adopting open standards.
“Some providers want to build proprietary storage networking solutions as fast as they can, forcing their decisions on their customers,” said Ms. Sanford. “On the other hand, there are providers who see the futility of that … who understand that interoperability is the only answer in the heterogeneous infrastructure … who know that their new solutions must work with the customer’s legacy technologies. The two sides are going to have to come together. Without interoperability, storage networking will never achieve its potential.”
Ms. Sanford noted the storage industry is undergoing an evolutionary process that may see dramatic changes in its future. Just last month, IBM successfully demonstrated an Internet Engineering Task Force working model called iSCSI. iSCSI, developed with Cisco, uses the same protocols of today’s web to create pervasive storage networks, where even laptops and other client devices could link directly to storage sources, bypassing servers. iSCSI is a proposed standard for using SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) to run data over TCP/IP (Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) networks.
IBM is an active member in the Storage Networking Industry Association and the Storage Performance Council, both industry consortia charged with developing open standards.
“We all know what is at stake for our industry. Either we achieve interoperability in storage networking or we risk stunting the e-business transformation,” Ms. Sanford said. “I ask you today to join me in this challenge and in this pursuit.” Ms. Sanford also appeared on an industry roundtable covering the topic of “Reality Check on Enterprise SANs” on Monday, October 30.