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Morphing and merging SAN/NAS

I hear SAN and NAS are morphing and merging. I'm looking for the rubber-meets-the-road list of functions that are likely to be in such a future, solution-based product.
The convergence of SAN and NAS means different things depending on who's talking. If it's a marketing person, it represents his/her product advantages whether real or not. One aspect is that the convergence represents some administrative combination such that the allocation of storage resources and the management are handled uniformly. Another is that the application is unaware where NAS or SAN is used and there is some intelligence to determine placement of data based on established criteria so the application automatically gets the type of storage to meet its needs.

The approaches in achieving this are where there are great variations from the different vendors. Here are a few approaches. There are others that are claimed by marketing people with some degree of credibility.

NAS gateway (or head) - a NAS controller function uses storage from a SAN rather than captive (or direct attached) storage. This method centralizes the allocation and management of the storage resources.

Virtualization engines - that have connections for both block and file access where the virtualization software manages the storage resource and serves files or blocks depending on the server connection.

Distributed file systems - that treat all storage, collectively, in a SAN as file systems accessible by all attached servers where the servers cooperate to manage or control access to data.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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