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The Many Benefits of IP Storage
Some folks in the corporate IT world feel that there are certain benefits of moving from DAS to SAN, and that these benefits apply to IP-based networks as well. Gal-Oz cites some of these benefits as the ability to share storage among many servers, thus better utilizing storage investments.
He also says that high-speed block level support for server clusters is not possible with DAS and NAS, and that server-less, LAN-free backup is faster, easier, and more reliable. Gal-Oz believes that centralized security and data protection are also major benefits, as is the fact that it's much easier to upgrade servers, add servers, add storage, or increase storage capacity per server.
Lauffin believes the benefits of IP SANs will evolve to where they will be nearly identical those of Fibre Channel SANs. “We see the feature sets of IP SANs encroaching steadily on the feature sets of traditional Fibre SANs. The longer that IP SAN technology has to mature, grow momentum, and attain acceptance, we are going to see more support poured into the funding of companies behind this technology,” says Lauffin.
He believes that as this happens we will see continued “Feature Compression” between the two technologies. “The IP companies already have a roadmap, they already have a blueprint — they are copying Fibre SANs — and we will see that the longer these companies stay in business and the longer they grow, the closer they will come to duplicating Fibre SANs across the Ethernet,” he concludes.
Great Potential for Mass Migration from DAS to IP SANs
Another major issue concerning IP-based SANs is whether or not we will start seeing DAS-entrenched companies puchase IP SANs en masse while reserving Fibre Channel-based solutions for high-end niches. Gal-Oz expects this to occur and says the reason is that there are a large number of users and applications out there that never migrated to a SAN due to the costs of server-attached Fibre Channel holding steady in the neighborhood of $2K to $7K per server, and customers still must add FC switching port costs, complexity, and lack of inoperable standards to the mix.
“The vast majority of our customers are migrating from DAS to SAN and would not choose FC – not because FC wouldn't do the job, but because they are more comfortable with iSCSI over TCP/IP or Ethernet, since this they understand, and the costs of deployment and maintenance are far lower,” he says.
“While SANs in general will become much more widespread as costs come down and manageability improves, says Lauffin, we will also see DAS storage systems evolving to contain embedded intelligence that will support features of existing SANs. However, he adds, Fibre will remain the weapon of choice for certain high-end applications.
As most people know, creating a snapshot or mirroring a volume for a host is a relatively easy task. However, ensuring that the data content stays consistent requires close interaction with a variety of host applications including databases, e-mail systems, and volume managers. As such, this is one area where Fibre is expected to hold court for the foreseeable future.