Do we really need standards in infrastructure?
Since a couple of years I have discussions with CIO`and other technology employees in global companies around standards. In fact the introduction of SAN as a protocol standard enabled the largest consolidation and optimization in the DC, started early 2000 until now. One of the reasons is that there has to be a maturity of the market and also a common sense that there is no benefit of defining the “company” standard.
As we have seen in the telco industry, over years companies have define there own phone infrastructure, it has total changed now to a VOiP driven model with a lot of benefits. Same we see nowadays in the DC with the appearance of the converged infrastructure. Hence this approach is not yet mature enough to have one single standard and the manufacturer of infrastructure and VAR´s define there own way. This currently has major impacts at customer sites since there will be a next generation converged model with is more defined thru organizations like SNIA and open stack models, or it will be a 3rd platform approach more likely, which may be called cloud.
What ever the next years will bring the key here is that decisions are not driven only on price more on the TCO and the future of the proposed architecture.
It is obvious to see that innovations cycles will increase and the demand for more flexibility on the business side with drive different infrastructure needs.
What happened on the manufacturer side?
Keep it simple is the demand which was given by the creators of the 3rd platform. However, in the enterprise of global customers the IT still runs in the 1st or mostly on the 2nd platform. This has to be taken in considerations. Associations like SNIA take this as basis and define standards which span the bridge between the new innovative and the current business demand IT requirements. Industry standards take a while to establish and of the manufacturers develop there own “standard” to keep customers closer. In the early stages of new technology this many be very convenient, but with maturity of the approach the move to an industry adoption will become necessary.
The same happened currently in SNIA. The standards around the traditional SAN is defined and also management capabilities like SMI-S are defined and adopted. New areas like Big Data, Object Storage, Analytics and Flash are more in the definition phase and the manufacturer define there own strategy and API´s. SNIA is working deep with the vendors to get the industry better shaped here. Seeing still a lot of startups appearing and innovation happening there too, the industry standard definition is still in the starting points, but customers would be wise to ask for certificated products to make the TCO and technology adoption more efficient to serve not only the cost model also the new demands of their business.