No matter where, no matter what
Henry David Thoreau (18171862), US philosopher,
was when taking care of a companys storage was as simple as hooking up
a RAID box to your server. Then came the TLAsNAS, SAN and what have youall
of which ended up turning the average corporate data centre into an unwieldy
mishmash of differing technologies. Then theres the problem that storage
is basically dumb. Your disk array doesnt know the difference between
an e-mail message and a cached Web page.
Applications are responsible for churning out mountains of data, so wouldnt
it be nice to manage storage from an application-centric perspective?
All of this leads to a bunch of technologies that attempt to simplify storage
management and deliver application-specific storage. Simpler storage entails
the ability to centrally manage all your storage, be it NAS, SAN or even DAS,
as one resource. Thats easier said than done, though work is on to create
software that can virtualise all your storage boxes and give you that unified
Meanwhile, application-specific storage is doing better. E-mail archivings
already out in the market, and its incredibly useful for the modern corporation
with gigabyte mailboxes and all that valuable project-related correspondence
captured on e-mail. Other application-specific storage solutions are entering
the market, and over time it should matter less and less what kind of storage
you have. Whatll count is whether your storage is application-oriented.
So whats ahead?
Im going out on a limb here and predicting that virtualisation will
happen in a year or two. Theres just too much demand for this feature
for vendors to ignore it. Today, the benefits of virtualisation, such as they
are, are limited to the SAN. That has to change and the virtualisation mechanism
should be able to store data on SAN, NAS or tape for that matter, based on the
kind of data or application that generated it.
IBMs updated SAN File System virtualisation software that includes support
for tape systems is a step in this direction. Every vendors on the virtualisation
path, be it EMC, NetApp, HDS, Sun or IBM. The trend is to support hardware from
other vendors through virtualisation.
The bottom line is that sales of storage software are outracing those of hardware.
The winner in all this is going to be the user.
Prashant L Rao
Head of Editorial Operations