The concept of IT as a service is not a new one, but storage needs to transform as well in order to become more service-oriented.
Tony Reid, EMEA pre-sales director at Hitachi Data Systems, told the Hitachi Innovation Forum that companies face a number of challenges regarding their data storage.

Historically, companies allowed servers to proliferate. In an effort to limit this, servers and storage were typically co-located. Storage consolidation was taking place some years ago and there were moves to consolidate servers. Like-workload consolidation was then recommended, along with mixed-workload consolidation.

Even at the beginning of the century, Reid says, IT companies tried to sell companies big consolidated systems.

The next phase of storage consolidation centred on storage networking, sharing the resource across many physical servers. This widened the scope and included a broader set of applications, Reid points out.

“A critical factor in making this successful was the ability of IT to charge back the resources to the business.”

To achieve service-orientation in service-oriented storage, the first step was to build a service catalogue and then sell these services to the business, Reid says.

This as a first step was great, but the challenge remains that applications may have different storage tier needs – and movement of data across tiers of storage was still difficult to do and often simply would not happen.
In the current environment, there are a number of technologies that allow IT to offer services. Reid recommends that a service catalogue is still a good place to start.

“We’ve got a lot more options to help you consolidate, use different services and drive cost out of IT,” he says.

The consolidation options include tiered storage automation, server virtualisation, cloud and productive converged compute platforms.

But users are still left with the problem of many consolidation options, applications and data on different classes of storage. As an IT department, users still need to justify what they charge for these services.

“The only way you can do that is by charging for services based on the class of service,” Reid says. “As long as they are getting the service they desire, the underlying technology doesn’t really matter.”

He adds that tools are available to build service catalogues relatively easily.

“If you are going to take advantage of service orientation, you need to contract with the business about service levels. This allows you to charge for the service, but you have to understand that there may be risks involved,” Reid says.

A lot of companies are already adopting these technologies, he adds.

“For a lot of us, we have no choice but to have a single team, so we have consolidated services that you deliver. I urge you to continue to do so, even if you can’t build a service catalogue yet, as the commercial benefits are too compelling not to.”

HDS builds services catalogues for the managed services it offers to customers, and can offer help or advice to customers on building their own.