Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Storage Evolution Part 1: Virtualization

In order for me to talk about storage virtualization, I feel it’s important to describe what I mean by it. Storage virtualization is introducing a layer of virtualization, or abstraction, when dealing with storage. What I’m not talking about is storage for server virtualization, or storage of VMware, Hyper-V, etc. While server virtualization and storage virtualization are very complimentary, they are not the same thing.

Storage virtualization adds some kind of pointer-based approach abstracting the physical blocks from the logical blocks of a disk, LUN or unit of storage. This approach adds power and benefit to give us more flexibility on how we allocate, move, make recovery points (snapshots, copies, etc.) and replication (mirroring) for business continuity or disaster recovery.

Friday, October 8, 2010

IBM V7000 and SVC 6.1 – What IBM is Getting Right

On Thursday, IBM made some storage announcements: Storwise V7000, SVC 6.1 and DS8800. I’m going to ignore the DS8800 for now; it may be a needed upgrade, but the thunder was stolen in my opinion by the other two areas.

Storwise V7000

IBM has made a big decision introducing the V7000. IBM’s mid-tier lineup has consisted of two main OEM’d players over the last decade, LSI’s IBM DS3/4/5000 lineup, and NetApp’s IBM N-Series. The V7000 is not an OEM product, but an IBM product.

This is a big departure.

While I’m not expecting IBM to immediately ditch LSI or NetApp, IBM is clearly out making their own hardware. They had some well-known pieces DS8000, XIV and SVC; the V7000 joins this homegrown family.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

XIV Is Cool, But Not Cool Enough

Now that I’ve gotten your attention, I have to say I love this box. It takes fairly inexpensive components and makes them sing. The real magic comes in two forms, grid computing and the algorithms that power it.

Back in the 90s, I used to install supercomputers across the USA. These were the deep blue variety that played Garry Kasparov in chess and eventually beat him. Supercomputers were being used to do many high performance computing tasks from analyzing road wear and tear to chemistry, data mining, nuclear simulation and weather forecasting. My wife would ask me if they wore capes.

The industry was going along fine, until some people decided to take inexpensive commodity Intel servers and network them together with a high-speed network, and distributing the workload amongst the different processing nodes. This is when grid computing took down the supercomputing heavyweights.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ILM Grows Up

Information lifecycle management (ILM) has long been the holy grail for organizations trying to better put their treasure troves of information and data where it makes the best sense. As well, putting the vast amounts of stuff we keep around and never look at anymore in as inexpensive of a place possible, while still keeping it online. The automated tools have usually been lacking.

Historically, this has been either a manual or intensive process. We’ve had tools to help us identify what’s what and where it is: storage resource management (SRM) tools help us identify aged, duplicate and no longer used junk that’s been packed away on our expensive spinning hard disks. We’ve had add-ons in the form of hierarchical storage management (HSM), that tiers data into gold, silver or bronze, or FC, SATA and tape. We’ve also had appliances, such as Rainfinity to help automate the movement. Most of these tools have focused on the unstructured file data, the network shares, moving that old stuff to cheaper pastures.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Introducing The Storage Evolution

What come so mind when you think about storage? There’s so much to consider. Do you think of primary storage, the world where servers directly access their information via methods such as direct attached disk (DAS) storage area networks (SANs) and network attached storage (NAS). Do you think about secondary storage, the realm of backups and archives, virtual tape libraries (VTLs), automated tape libraries (ATLs) and long-term repositories (disks, optical platters, tapes or whatever makes sense at the time).

For me, I have four evolutionary topics mapped out. When I sit down to discuss where the action is taking place in storage, I can usually distill it down to four keys areas:

  1. Virtualization
  2. Deduplication
  3. Grid
  4. Encryption

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let’s Get Started

My job is a server and storage solution architect. I’ve installed supercomputers, large UNIX clusters, massive amounts of storage, huge tape libraries, complex FibreChannel  SANs and Network gear. I’ve connected all of these together as well as connect geographically remote data centers with mirroring and clustering servers for the ultimate in protection and resiliency. I’ve worked as a developer writing applications and middleware. I’ve worked for small companies, large vendors and ran my own consulting company for a while. I have something to say.

What I’m hoping to do is share some ideas and some wisdom. Servers use to consume all of my time. For that past decade, my focus has been storage. Lots of storage. Storage seems to be the ultimate consumable resource. Is yours out of control?

I intend this blog to talk at both high level abstract concepts and occasionally get deep into the weeds. Maybe you’ll find something useful.