New Storage Framework Debuts At SNW

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The end-to-end storage technology that could replace decades-old block and SCSI technologies made its debut at the Storage Networking World conference this week.

Seagate, Emulex and IBM have teamed up on a joint technology demonstration of Object-Based Storage Devices (OSD) (see A Storage Framework for the Future). Object-Based Storage is an extension of the current SCSI command set that shifts or delegates more functionality and intelligence from the host to individual storage devices.

Others such as Panasas and the Lustre file system have done partial implementations of object-based storage, but this week’s SNW demonstration is the first time that OSD has been shown spanning the file system to the drive, and it is also the first prototype device that is compliant with the SCSI OSD command set standard ratified last year, organizers say.

The demonstration “signals the emergence of a new era in storage resource management that will also greatly impact and simplify many tasks in enterprise computing environments,” the companies said.

“OSD helps empower IT managers by reducing the complexity of storage management and IT resources and ultimately alleviates the need to focus on many low-level tasks,” stated Brian Dexheimer, Seagate’s executive vice president for global sales and marketing.

The demonstration uses two IBM metadata servers running an IBM Research shared file system with OSD support. Object-Based Storage is demonstrated at the subsystem level and at the disk drive level. The servers send objects over an Ethernet connection to an IBM OSD array, which then stores the objects on internal block-based hard drives, demonstrating the protocol at the iSCSI and controller level. The servers also send objects through a standard Emulex LightPulse LP10000DC dual channel Fibre Channel host bus adapter with enhanced drivers to an array of Seagate OSDs, demonstrating the protocol at the Fibre Channel fabric and disk level. Both servers run on existing Fibre Channel and Ethernet networks.

The demonstration is being held at the Storage Networking World conference in Phoenix at Seagate’s booth, #P13.

Too many IT resources are tied up in low-level details and functions because the storage environment exposes too much complexity, the companies said. Storage management software can mask this complexity only so much, while Object-Based Storage reduces complexity at the source.

Object-Based Storage is an extension of the current SCSI command set and is carried over SCSI, iSCSI, Fibre Channel or SAS interfaces. The new command set shifts or delegates more functionality and intelligence from the host into the individual storage devices by managing and storing a file and its metadata together as one coherent object, maintaining the connection down to the Object-Based Storage devices (a controller, disk array or an individual disk drive).

Higher-level infrastructure activities are delegated to the lowest-level devices, decreasing traffic and enabling new functionality that software alone cannot provide, such as greater scalability and performance, dynamic reconfiguration, host interoperability, native security and enhanced reliability.

The result is that both IT and system builders benefit, with more competitive storage solutions that allow them to focus on application and data characteristics rather than low-level storage management.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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