Delivering always-on application availability accompanied by the highest levels of capacity, management and performance are the features that historically distinguish high end storage arrays from other storage arrays available on the market. But even these arrays struggle to easily deliver on a fundamental data center task: migrating data from one physical array to another. The introduction of the storage virtual array feature into the new HP XP7 dramatically eases this typically complex task as it facilitates data consolidations and migrations by migrating entire storage virtual arrays from one physical array frame to another while simplifying array management in the process.
This year’s spring Storage Networking World (SNW) 2012 show was unlike any other that I had attended in the past. While I had good conversations with the folks from FalconStor, HP, QLogic, Spectra Logic and Nimbus Data Systems among others, what was most remarkable about this SNW was the lack of notable new announcements around storage.
Ever since FCoE was first announced with much fanfare a few years ago at the spring Storage Networking World 2008, it has always struck me as a technology looking for a problem to solve. Now nearly three years later it seems that the largest advocate for FCoE (arguably Cisco) may have finally found a practical use case for it. But the question that has since crossed my mind is, “Does anyone who has implemented FCoE in their data center really know that FCoE is the protocol that Cisco is using under the covers in support of its SAN infrastructure?”
It has been rumored that EMC’s CEO Joe Tucci has said that EMC’s biggest threat comes not from Dell, HDS, HP or IBM but NetApp. It is for that reason that EMC has been looking over its shoulder for some time to see what NetApp is up to in an attempt to stay one step ahead of it from a technology perspective. But after attending NetApp’s annual Analyst Days last week, it is time for EMC to stop looking over its shoulder and start looking up because EMC now finds itself in the shadow of NetApp’s cloud.
You can’t talk about storage these days without including virtualization somewhere in the conversation. The Spring 2009 SNW was no different as one of its Summits was devoted to virtualization. The Tuesday, April 7, Virtualization Summit proved very interesting even though it was dominated by vendors. Some of the better data points that came out of this Summit were from TheInfoPro and Boston Medical Center. Also, interesting tidbits on SSD are emerging as SSD appears to solve performance challenges for VMware-access-to-storage in high I/O environments as well as performance intensive development environments.
I apologize to those of you who expected this SNW recap last Thursday or Friday. Wednesday ending up being busier than I expected and anyone who was flying last week knows about the challenges associated with air travel due to all of the grounded American flights, spring break, and ATA going bankrupt. Though I left on Thursday flying out on Midwest Airlines, the Midwest flight before mine to Milwaukee was canceled and my flight to Kansas City was delayed an hour due to a series of nasty storms going through the Midwest.
I initially intended to share in this blog posting what I learned from my briefings on Day 3 of SNW. However I’ve had some more time to digest the news surrounding the FCoE announcements at SNW on Tuesday and the more I think about it, the more this whole FCoE strikes me as a huge setup that is being carefully orchestrated by the FC industry. Bottom line, Brocade, Emulex and Qlogic and, to a lesser extent, Cisco and Intel, used SNW as a platform to obviously promote FCoE but longer term to make sure enterprise data centers lock into FC for the next 10 years.
Xiotech made the first “earthshaking” announcements of the day at 7:00 am which mostly had those I spoke to shaking their heads trying to figure out what the announcement meant. The announcement centered on their new patented Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) technology that they acquired from Seagate last November that will, according to Xiotech, “virtually eliminate the need for service, scale from one terabyte to one petabyte and dramatically boost perfromance”.
Last month I did some research and evaluation of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). In my Part 1 of 3 I shared some elements that can encourage the use of FCoE in the data center. During my research I spent about an hour on the phone with Mike Krause, Fellow Engineer at HP. Mike and I talked about few things related to FCoE, shared storage and network fabrics. I asked Mike about creating a shared fabric using InfiniBand, because InfiniBand requires a single card type and InfiniBand switches that take frames to their respective networks. Mike countered saying that InfiniBand is a great option, but it introduces a new, third architecture to the data center. I realized immediately that it was orthogonal to existing data and storage networks. Mike further commented that he liked InfiniBand as an option, but the original intent was to replace PCI as the primary peripheral interconnect within servers etc. Thus, it made sense that InfiniBand…
When I received the assignment to review the FCoE specification and compare it to iFCP, FCIP and iSCSI (block protocols over data networks) I was thinking it might be boring, I was very wrong. After just a few short minutes with Claudio and Bill I knew I was talking to a pair of very intelligent and thoughtful business technologists.