Storage outlook 2009: Seeking bigger, slower disk drives

With data deduplication already in place and VMware storage accounted for, IT manager for a Belgian hospital is looking for even bigger, slower drives for archival storage.

Reinoud Reynders is IT manager for the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium. This year, he used NetApp products...

to design a new VMware storage infrastructure. For the near future, he's looking forward to the next release of NetApp's Ontap and for slower—yes, slower—disk drives. First, a look back at 2008. What was your biggest storage project that was completed this year? What problem did it solve for you? What do you wish had gone differently?

Reynders: VMware storage. We did two things: migrated from iSCSI to NFS, and implemented deduplication. This was a great project. NFS is at least 25% faster than iSCSI. In some cases, even more with the same storage system and network. With iSCSI, you use the VMFS files system and you have just one disk queue for every LUN, and you put 10 [virtual machines] VMs in one VMFS. With NFS, you have a disk queue for every VM – much faster. It's the same when you migrate from FCP to NFS. Also, when you use NFS, you get thin provisioning for free [with NetApp storage] and you can use much larger volumes [2 TB instead of 200 GB for VMFS]. Deduplication on VMware storage was incredible. We got a savings of 65%; in some cases, even more. We have calculated, and we believe that we have achieved, an annual saving of more than 60,000 Euros a year.

What effect will the global economic climate have on your storage planning for 2009?

Reynders: Not much. In the last few years we've spent 2% of our revenue on IT. This is very low and the chance that this will be less in the future is low. We even believe that our budget will be the same next year and maybe a little bit more.

What's your most important storage project for 2009?

Reynders: Handling the growth with data management. I expect very much from the next release of Ontap with new data management features and scale-out strategy.

What storage technologies are you evaluating for 2009?

Reynders: The new release of Ontap, 10 GbE for iSCSI and NFS. Maybe replacing our [Fibre Channel] FC SAN with NFS or [Fibre Channel over Ethernet] FCoE.

Which technology was most useful to you this year?

Reynders: Deduplication. We are still very impressed with the power of this. In a VMware environment, it is a must. But also for other data, you can get a great benefit. With deduplication, we have saved more than 20 TB.

Which do you think was the most overrated technology in 2008?

Reynders: Solid-state disks: a lot of noise, but still not really ready for the market.

What technology will be most useful for accomplishing your next goals?

Reynders: A real scale-out infrastructure so that we can grow very easy at the lowest TCO.

What would you like to see happen in the storage industry in 2009?

Reynders: Bigger and much slower disks. We have a lot of reference data and we want to keep everything online. The cheaper and slower the disks are, the better.

What storage market story did you follow with the most interest this year?

Reynders: Some great VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] stories, where the need for dedupe is much higher than with VMware.

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