Ask the Expert

2003 SAN predictions: Rules-based storage management and smart software -- Part 1

SAN expert Christopher Poelker presents his 2003 predictions. We asked our site experts once again to take out their crystal ball and share with you their predictions not only in their area of expertise but for the storage market in general for the upcoming year 2003.

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Blending of modular and monolithic architectures begins

In 2003, we will begin to see further enhancements to the modular storage space. The high-end capabilities usually found only in the bigger more expensive monolithic storage subsystems will begin to migrate down to the modular space. Customer requirements and market demand are forcing SAN suppliers to continually lower prices on higher end subsystems, while at the same time, customers are demanding higher end capabilities within typically midrange modular-based solutions.

You will begin to see the differences between modular and monolithic begin to blur. The SAN suppliers will start to morph their product lines together, perhaps in some cases, even using parts of the monolithic storage as the basis for a modular building block. The higher end solutions will be turned into more modular architectures. Those that keep two distinct product sets, will allow you to combine solutions into the network, and assign storage based on application need.

You will also start to see more use of blade technology in the higher end storage subsystems, along with certified connectivity with storage appliances from other vendors. This will give customers choice in their method of connectivity into the SAN. The choices in connectivity, along with new capabilities in the modular space will allow storage pooling to emerge as an effective method of gaining ROI.

Difference between SAN and NAS continue to blur

The use of blade and appliance technology for connectivity to SAN resources will enable storage providers to offer choice of access to pooled storage resources. Customers will be able to pool NAS and SAN resources together within the SAN storage, and share those resources over Storage over IP (SoIP) or Fibre Channel connections.

You can then choose between how to connect to SAN resources. You can access disk over fast FC interfaces through a blade or FC switch, or connect through an appliance that pools multiple storage devices together. You will be able to connect to back-end SAN disk over an FC blade, or over IP through an iSCSI blade or appliance. You can choose the connection that provides the most cost-effective method of access, depending on the specific service level requirements of the applications being connected. The use of SoIP (Storage over IP) technology (like iSCSI) will begin to reduce the entry costs of connection to SAN resources, by eliminating the need to use expensive HBAs connected to FC switch ports in the SAN.

NAS will become part of the SAN and the method of connection to the pool of storage resources using FC-SW, CIFS, NFS or iSCSI protocols will determine how you connect and interact with that pool.

Click here for Part 2

This was first published in December 2002

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