Storage-area networks to become increasingly object based

Storage-area networks will become increasingly object based, with a greater use of metadata. Potential SAN trends include disk drives, management, storage arrays and switches.

In the next five years, storage-area networks (SANs) will be increasingly object based. Object-based data storage resembles file-based data storage except it makes greater use of metadata. But object-based data storage isn't a total win-win proposition. It trades the efficiency and performance of block-based data storage for easier management and more automation.

Object metadata will let you manage data storage more effectively and apply policies based on the data content, regulatory requirements, ownership of the data and so on. The metadata can also be used to dynamically store data at the most appropriate service levels.

Let's take a look at some of the potential trends for SANs over the next five years and the likelihood that they'll actually evolve:

  • Disk drives -- Likelihood 90%
    Hard disk drives remain the dominant data storage medium in 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch form factors; 4K sectors will emerge for enhanced error correction; expect capacities to reach 4 TB disk capacity, but 15K rpm will remain the top choice for performance.

  • Management -- Likelihood 60%
    With the widespread adoption of VMware Inc. and other hypervisors., application programming interfaces (APIs) by management tool vendors will simplify the backup of virtual servers and enable dynamic provisioning of mobile virtual machines. Intelligence embedded in the storage-area network (SAN) and switch will enable more automated, policy-based data management. Object-based data storage with rich metadata will allow more intelligence-driven data automation.

  • Data storage arrays -- Likelihood 85%
    Ultra-high-density data storage arrays will pack more storage into a smaller, greener footprint; arrays will have multiple interfaces (IP, enhanced IP, Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet) to connect with converged fabrics; some solid-state disk will be incorporated for high IOPS data.

  • Switches -- Likelihood 70%
    Multiprotocol switches will be common, and switches will have greater intelligence, which will be used for management.

This material originally appeared in Storage magazine.

BIO: Alan Radding is a frequent contributor to

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