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SOA, storage and BI

Dana Gardner discusses how storage servers are often enablers of SOA activity, rather than SOA enabling storage first.

Are companies undertaking large SOA projects finding that it ramps up demand for persistent storage? In general how might a service orientation strategy affect storage needs?

You may want to think of it the other way around. Storage services are often precursors to and enablers of wider SOA activities. Indeed, storage has been a primary benefactor of services orientation principles and practices. In the use markets we're seeing that enterprises services-enable their storage long before they get around to wholesale "SOA-ization" of apps, data, and business processes and composite applications.

Major drivers for this storage-first mentality, however, have less to do with a desire to get to SOA generally, and more about the strong demand for business intelligence (BI), data warehouses and marts, and the need to cut total storage costs while making data from many sources more available and more easily analyzed in aggregate. So efforts behind storage area networks (SAN) and networked-attached storage (NAS) are being driven by the need to consolidate and rationalize data -- while exploiting newer and less expensive storage management technologies and approaches.

That also sets the stage for BI paybacks as common views of data and customers opens the door to greater forecasting and strategic analysis. Elevating data to common management also sets the stage for master data management, meta data driven processes, and general data center consolidation cost savings. Oh, and there's some pretty impressive hardware savings in there too.

But perhaps the biggest payback over time will be the effective use that SOAs make of these newly modernized data services. In effect, SOA makes all the major parts of IT infrastructure and assets work better together, and so the investments in storage efficiency and data rationalization and transformation may be the best examples of how the reduced IT TCO whole is greater than the savings already gleaned from the storage parts.

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