Who Goes to Jail?
by Andy Mulholland - Global CTO, Capgemini Group - Monday, 6 September 2004.
The CIO has been living with the apparently unstoppable demand for more storage for quite a while, really since the Internet/ World Wide Web introduced a whole new concept of ‘content’. Recently American CEOs and CFOs have started to show an interest in this previously boring IT technology subject and it’s discussed in quiet intense whispers. Put simply its called the ‘Who goes to jail?’ question, and its tied up with the focus on corporate governance following the Enron and other scandals that have led to the Sarbanes - Oxley act. Not having kept, or being able to access, the right information at the right time is now a serious offence that puts the CEO and/or the CFO in jail for perjury, regardless of who in the organisation may or may not have been to blame. Rising costs for storage of the increasing amount of data suddenly seem to be acceptable, even justifiable, a somewhat different situation from the vexed discussions that have characterised CIOs requests to spend more money on storage over recent years. Storage technology has changed too so even before thinking about the executive and corporate business problem there is a lot of technology change for the CIO to consider.

Industry specialists have been warning for some years that the amount of data being produced by the increasing use of IT is logarithmically increasing, and that serious management attention is required. As IT has moved from being used in selective areas of business to becoming a general tool in all areas of a business this increase in the production of data is understandable. The need for more efficiency in straight forward storage is clear enough, but this is only the most obvious part of the changes required. In the first three months of 2003, during a time of economic and budget cut backs, according to IDC, globally organisations increased their storage capacity by buying an additional 175.6 Petra bytes of storage space. This equates to an extra 49% of capacity, mostly bought without any strategic justification, purely a cost within the IT budget based on current ‘needs’. The suppliers of storage products, the IT industry and CIOs cannot continue just to provision more ‘space’.

After more than thirty years of Direct Attached Storage, or DAS, being at first the only, and latterly the leading way of storing data, relatively quickly over the last five years of new purchases Network based storage has taken over as the dominate form. Though there is competition as to whether this should be achieved using Storage Area Networks, SANs, the leading technique, or Network Attached Storage, NAS, the shift is clear, and follows a distinctive change in the way that IT is supporting business by using Networked Devices. SAN storage is architecturally attuned to, and deployed as, a part of three layer, or ‘N’ tier, solutions built with Application Servers. It is the accelerating change to building solutions in this manner, for the many benefits that it provides, that accounts for the switchover in sales from application centric DAS, to process centric SAN.

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