Hey guys, I’m back after a 6 months long hiatus. Lots of work, illness, stuff to sort out, well it’s been a bumpy ride but thankfully there have been some successes, too.
Today I want to kind of share some experiences I’ve had with customers and storage solutions here in the Czech Republic. As I gained more insight at customers installed base and met with many of them, my experience with them has been that most of the time, they prefer to rely on direct attached storage over disk arrays.
It’s interesting to see that most of the leading vendors and solutions which have emerged in 2013 were in the field of storage in one way or another – be it storage virtualization, hyper-converged solutions, or flash-based acceleration. If you look at the innards of Nutanix and Simplivity, and expand this to VMware Virtual SAN, then you get an idea of where the industry is headed, and whether you like it or not this is the innovation, and the new trend in datacenter software defined storage.
One would argue that this approach is fairly new, not bulletproof tested and that nothing matches the high availability provided by a good old dual controller storage array. I won’t go over debating whether FC or iSCSI is the best protocol, because the industry has reached a point where abstraction of resources is becoming the standard across all stacks. With abstraction comes the commoditization of x86 servers which can turn any storage-optimized rack server into a storage node, provided you use the good storage virtualization platform.
While traditional storage vendors compete about who has the highest IOPS, who provides the maximum amount of disks, who provides the fastest ports and more or less sleep on their laurels (dedupe, compress, cloning), real innovators in the field are one step ahead, into the concept of SDDC (Software Defined Datacenter), where all resources are abstracted, pooled and their assignment and consumption is policy-driven. They grabbed the essence of VMware strategic vision and converted it into a real business case, when most large vendors (where there IS innovation taking place) are most often stuck with their existing portfolio and are busy at building “single pain of glass” interface and integration into complex validated architectures, leading in the creation of competing and incompatible infrastructure stacks that require yet another “single pain of glass” management to be brought together.
Integration of storage, network and compute in one single appliance not only simplifies the infrastructure design but it makes it more resilient, cheaper to run and to maintain. Although I believe there is still an use case for traditional monolithic storage solutions (existing installed base, large installations), I can’t help but think that the hyper-converged solutions are the future of the average datacenter.
Even without considering hyper-converged solutions, and keeping VSAN out of of the loop, the introduction of no-shared storage vMotion has motivated a lot of SMB shops to skip the adoption of shared storage. Even if they miss the advantages of shared storage such as the possibility to implement vSphere HA, they can still rely on replication products to protect their VMs from a host failure.
What caught also my eye is the trends in flash acceleration. On one side we’ve got the traditional vendors, who besides adapting their arrays to include flash acceleration are providing either expensive full flash arrays or server-based PCIe adapters, on the other side we’ve got software innovators who leverage standard server-based enterprise SSD disks and provide acceleration at a fraction of the price. This may be the subject for another post, but I encourage you to have a look at Frank Denneman’s blog, since PernixData is certainly one of the serious contenders in this area.
So this is what I had to say about this trend towards increasing use of DAS I’ve been noticing here in the Czech Republic. I would like to hear your opinions and if you’ve noticed similar trends in your respective countries. I know this post may sound biased, but I tend to root for innovation when it comes to IT. Feel free to share and to discuss.