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Integrator says vendors need more substance in their storage stories

Storage Networking World conference presenters hit all the same high notes, mostly without saying how to move from storage theory to implementation.

After two days of conference sessions, vendor briefings and expert market analyses William Dean has heard everything the usual suspects have to say about enterprise storage.

He just wishes they had a little more to say or, better, more to show.

Dean, director of professional services for systems integrator Applied Computer Solutions in Huntington Beach, Calif., came to the Storage Networking World (SNW) conference in Orlando, Fla. looking for speakers with real-life experience managing complex storage networking projects.

But last night Dean said the information he's received is producing exactly what a good storage system does not need -- redundancy.

"As systems integrators we can give end users a bit more tunnel vision or a little more of a concise view of the technology that they can use to address their specific problems, as opposed to listening to the generalities from a half a dozen people who say they can fix anything," Dean said.

Richard Bocchinfuso, vice president and chief technology officer for MTI Technology, Inc., and one of a few systems integrators presenting at the conference, said he had not attended enough presentations to make an assessment on the content, but noted that the SNW conference would benefit from more systems integrators presenting real life storage implementations to the end users. Why?

"Because a systems integrator has a good view into integrating multiple technologies that go into solving a business problem as opposed to driving you to what's in my bag and that solves all your problems," Bocchinfuso said. He also noted that there is not enough margin in the business to support systems integrators attendance at shows like SNW. "Systems Integrators are getting hammered because the big guys are looking to build service in the business," Bocchinfuso said.

Day two of the conference saw its fair share of generalities. For example, Paul Saffo, a forecaster, strategist and director for the Institute of the Future, told storage IT professionals that they are "in the media business."

Howard Elias, executive vice president of EMC Corp.'s Global Services told attendees to build an IT infrastructure that can "become an enablement for information." To do that, he said, four things must be in place: a flexible, tiered infrastructure, an intelligent information-management system, IT managers who makes sure resources are available to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time, and the ability to secure information so that it goes only to the right people at the right time.

High concept, yes; highly detailed, no.

Ash Ashutosh, vice president and chief technologist, HP StorageWorks division said the answer to the next generation data centers must be based on industry standards. Future solutions must be centrally managed and automated using modular software ,as well as virtualized across systems and processes, and must leverage advanced power and cooling technologies.

"Some content from some of the sessions has been kind of light. Some of the topics are things that probably most people have heard dozens of times with their local vendor sales people," Dean said.

Hubert Yoshida, vice president chief technology officer, Hitachi Data Systems Corp., focused his presentation on the benefits of virtualization and plugged his company's approach saying that Hitachi localizes virtualization processing and control in a controller unit, rather than in the main part of the storage unit, which he said is less disruptive.

Yoshida told that VARs and IT integrators like the approach. "Ours is a differentiating approach to virtualization. It's not done in the network, it's done in the controller unit and our partners gain cost advantages that way," Yoshida said.

Dean, whose company has worked on virtualization projects and is a Hitachi partner, has his reservations: "I think it depends on the customer's environment. There's a place for appliance-based or controller-based virtualization. It's kind of one of those things where you say it depends on what problem you're trying to solve with virtualization," Dean said.

For sure, Dean said he would have liked to have seen more problem-oriented, customer-issue-oriented discussions and he hopes organizers of future storage networking conferences will consider adding more systems integrators to their list of speakers. "I think there is a value to that," Dean said.

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