Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Outside the box

For many years we have been working with companies on slightly unusual network applications. In the 1990's we worked with a lot of companies as they got onto the web and started to do credit card transactions. One of the first companies that we worked with on a major load balancing and security project was Cybercash. I thought they had a great business, but ultimately they failed for a variety of reasons. The unintended consequences of fast growth and losing their focus on their objectives were certainly general causes.

Knitting together the software and patches that keep routers, switches, servers, applications and security working does not have to end in failure. By addressing the unintended consequences of each component and their effects on each of the other components, high availability networks can be built and maintained. It just takes planning. Unfortunately, many admins and IT execs don't have time to plan to this extent--which is why many networks are continually added to and why many customers with network attached storage seem to operate in a seemingly catch-up mode as they work to maximize their storage infrastructures. It is often more expedient to add to the current network and patch a piece than rethink the whole thing.

This all leads up to what will happen to storage and network growth when budgets get cut and regular purchasing is stopped or severely diminished. I suspect that storage and network administrators will begin to acquire storage on an as-needed basis and purchase it over time. This will differ from past behavior where they sought to purchase in bulk for future growth. The pricing models and terms are still being worked out by numerous vendors, and ownership of capacity and components has to be determined. The economics of enterprise storage is changing with the economic conditions. It will be interesting to see which vendors will be able to adapt to the changes and which unintended consequences are brought about by the current recession and our reactions to it.

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