As the technologies required for robust storage virtualization mature, to the point necessary for certifying interoperability, a wide array of storage product interfaces, heretofore hidden, will become clearer. The drive to "virtualize" already has provided a significant boost to interface standards like Multipath I/O (MPIO). The desire to virtualize services higher than pathing (e.g., snapshot copy, replication) will lead to additional, near-standard conventions for automating storage administration tasks across multiple platforms. The consequences of increased interoperability at multiple levels of function will effect not just storage procurement, but also dramatically simplify the processes of retiring (1) less attractive storage hardware and software; and (2) less productive storage administration practices. With each step towards certified storage virtualization, users are closer to gaining real leverage over their storage resources for the first time in nearly two decades.
Action Item: Demanding clear answers from suppliers regarding current and go-forward commitments to certification regimes for storage virtualization is not only a reasonable, but an essential, step in any storage-related negotiation. These answers will profoundly affect storage-related procurement, asset management, and operations practices for years to come.