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2012: Year of the infrastruggle

Ezine

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Don’t let yourself be dazzled by bright lights and other storage bling -- the hardware might be cool to look at, but it’s the software that’s going to make a difference.

It’s always geeky fun to dig down and explore the nuances among storage hardware products, but I’m finding those discussions increasingly irrelevant. To paraphrase an insight offered by fictional Cosmonaut Lev Andropov in the 1998 movie Armageddon, “Components. American components, Russian components, all made in Taiwan!”

Simply put, all disk drives in enterprise arrays come from one of three sources. The chassis or trays into which drives are mounted come from one of four or five providers. Cable harnesses, connectors, adapters and so on all come from the same suppliers. Even the cabinets into which these components are mounted come from a common supply chain, with the key difference in their cost to vendors, I’m told, being color. Black is the most expensive choice.

That makes the bezel plate on the front of the box, customized with a logo and sometimes tricked out with neon lights, the real hardware differentiator.

Pardon me while I yawn.

Look, storage just isn’t sexy. That seems to be by design, dating back to the late ’50s/early ’60s when the IBM RAMAC guys discovered how to make disk platters rust (using the same paint that produced the pukey reddish color on the Golden Gate Bridge) so you could write data on them.

Storage just isn’t

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supposed to be to information technology what haute couture is in fashion. This devil doesn’t wear Prada.

The best arrays don’t require a lot of special care or hand washing. They’re designed to be hit hard, to deliver performance consistently and to demonstrate durability over their service life. Storage is supposed to be as reliable as a beat-up, all-weather work truck, not a slick luxury car that requires a thousand dollar tune-up every week it’s driven in traffic.

This was first published in March 2012

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