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KISS — Keep it Simple, Storage
Richart Escott, director of storage management software at HP, explains the need for on demand storage by highlighting the storage explosion – 5 Exabytes added last year, equivalent to 500,000 times the entire contents of the Library of Congress. In response, organizations have over provisioned and are suffering because of low utilization.
He lays out four elements that are an integral part of HP's adaptive enterprise initiative:
Simplification: By eliminating customization and reducing the number of elements to manage, automation can be implementedInterestingly, all the big vendors outlined a similar vision for on demand computing and agreed with each other on its primary element: to provide computing resources and storage when you need them and where you need them without hassle. Instead of wrestling with administrative complexities, you simply allocate and have it available. This can be provided within the company itself, or the resources can be made available by a third party.
Standardization: This can be accomplished by adopting standard interfaces, enterprise architectures, and processes. This also calls for standards such as IP-based networking and the SNIA's Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S)
Modularity: Monolithic structures must be broken down, with modular systems deployed, as well as virtualized servers and storage
Integration: In order to manage the link between business and IT, it has to be possible to rapidly connect applications and business processes either inside or outside the enterprise
"In a way it is 'back to the future,' as we appear to be evolving back to a model similar to the old mainframe days, where blade servers integrated in racks are being used to consolidate storage," says Rich Napolitano, vice president of Sun's storage systems group.
Napolitano's presentation highlighted the four components of storage: disks and arrays, access via switching by Ethernet or FC, data services, and applications (such as storage management, data center management, storage resource management, etc.). The old problems with vendor lock-in, he contends, were caused by data services being tied in too closely with disks and arrays. Today, the value is moving from RAID and disks up the food chain towards data services.
Napolitano used the analogy of the electric motor. Once an item that everybody bought, nobody purchases electric motors by themselves any more; rather, they come built into many other devices and products. The same is expected to happen to RAID and storage hardware. Such components will be built into on demand solutions, but will not be the focus of the purchase. Instead, the innovation is occurring in such areas as volume management, striping, snapshots, and virtualization. And that's why standardization is so important — to move from an era of proprietary hardware to one where storage can be automated within a heterogeneous environment.
"Even EMC is endorsing SMI-S; it's a standard the whole industry seems to be getting behind in order to achieve simplification," says Napolitano. "That will help to make storage usable between mere mortals instead of getting bogged down in the plumbing."
The tremendous need for on demand storage was well illustrated by Jens Tiedeman, IBM's vice president of storage software. He made it clear that it is still difficult to build and manage a heterogeneous SAN. Thus, maximizing the utilization of physical assets remains a serious challenge. With each and every component having a unique interface, installation and configuration is a problem to end users.
He chose the example of the telephone industry in the 1930s. Somebody did a survey at that time and determined that based on the predicted increase in the number of calls, the country would need 100 million telephone switch operators by 1980.
"We face a similar situation today with storage," says Tiedeman. "In a decade we would need such a huge number of storage administrators that it couldn't possibly happen."