Best Practices: The year ahead: Green power, weak dollars and more apps


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Virtual everything
Systems virtualization has taken the industry by storm. VMware is everywhere, and the adoption of virtualization will continue at its accelerated pace. Competition will increase now that Microsoft, Sun and even Oracle have announced virtualization products. This puts pressure on your storage team to prepare your environment to accommodate the new "clientele." If you have a new virtualization deployment in the pipeline, check with your storage/SAN vendor--and your professional peers--to gather documentation and best practices so that any virtualization implementation you lead isn't conducted in a vacuum and that you benefit from the lessons learned by those who have gone before you.

Systems virtualization will also bring with it speedier adoption of iSCSI. iSCSI has been quietly making inroads into the FC space and will continue to do so while keeping a clear demarcation between its functions vs. those of FC. It's only a matter of time before storage teams will need to deal with both technologies concurrently, if not already.

But storage virtualization seems to have reached a bit of a plateau. Most big vendors have released roadmaps for their products. We know the virtualization strategy that vendors like EMC, HDS, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM and Network Appliance are pursuing. So unless someone announces a major change in direction, this space will remain

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relatively calm. Adoption will rise, but not at a surprising rate.

If you implement storage virtualization this year, do it for the right reasons: not because it's cool, but because it offers the ability to create homogeneous storage pools, seamless data mobility and, more importantly, storage tiers that can be tied to the business value of the data they store.

New and emerging technologies
Oracle has announced 11g, Sun is pushing ZFS and a lot of new apps are being adopted across the board. This means the storage team will have very little time to adjust provisioning practices to accommodate these new apps. Akin to systems virtualization, these new apps will dictate a new set of requirements, best practices and nuisance values, or possibly a whole new way in which storage is provisioned and managed. Of course, a lot of the day-to-day management is performed by the systems platforms teams, but the storage team will need to ensure that improper implementations on the host side don't cause an imbalance in the storage subsystem in terms of performance and such. Implementation of Oracle's Automatic Storage Management (ASM), for example, needs to be planned properly to avoid spindle contention and/or redundancy. Expect to see Oracle RAC and ASM play a bigger role in Oracle database environments.

The open-source movement will also play a bigger role in the storage world. Several firms, such as IBM and Sun, are contributing significantly to open-source software. The Aperi project, for example, is aimed at creating an open-source suite of storage management apps.

This was first published in February 2008

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