The need for more storage space increases every year for most companies, but many Windows administrators can barely manage the storage they already have.
According to an online survey of approximately 250 readers conducted recently by SearchWinSystems.com, roughly four out of 10 respondents said managing existing storage is their biggest problem. Expanding storage capacity also ranked high; a full quarter of respondents list it as a top problem.
SearchWinSystems.com also asked readers open-ended questions about storage problems, and IT professionals weighed in with regard to the critical storage challenges they face. Several cited the fact that old documents are taking up too much space. There is also a problem with figuring out how to distribute storage management. The difficulty is in understanding what data is there, owned by whom, one manager said.
For Bruce Maynard, an IS consultant with Bossard Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa, storage needs constantly outpace available storage space.
Bossard, which has about 1,500 employees, makes fasteners. Maynard said storage capacity planning is particularly difficult because product choices today are few.
"I have looked into this and there seems to be a large gap between small and medium business-priced systems," he said. "And those intended for large, interim solutions seem to primarily consist of several small systems 'cobbled together,' which is very unsatisfactory."
MonoSphere Inc. is one startup that's banking on the needs of managers like Maynard. MonoSphere, in Redwood City, Calif., recently released Storage Horizon, a product it claims attempts to solve the problem of storage capacity planning. The company thinks the product will stand alone, since most capacity-planning applications are currently part of storage resources management systems.
Storage Horizon uses Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) to gather information and to alert users when their storage is close to reaching capacity. The application also has a forecasting engine that projects volume sizes over 90 days and tracks by specific application, such as Exchange Server and SQL Server.
But new products such as this one may not be a panacea for customer concerns, said one expert. Peter Pawlak, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash., consulting firm, said it is not so much a lack of Windows storage capacity planning products that is the problem but a lack of knowledge among IT administrators on effective storage management.
"Disk capacity planning is not really a tools issue, but a needs issue," Pawlak said. "Plan for the future. If you don't know what you need, buy a system that is more easily expandable."