Storage not only plays a critical role in a company’s IT strategy, it’s also increasingly important to the survival of the overall business. It’s vital that IT departments understand key storage issues, how to address them, and how these issues impact the entire enterprise.
A strong understanding of key storage issues enables companies to rapidly gain control of their network’s most valuable resources, which in turn will help them get the maximum return on investment (ROI). Let’s take a look at some of the key issues in today’s storage industry.
Storage Standards and Their Long-Term Impact
Being able to effectively gauge which storage standards are likely to have a long-term impact on the storage market is a vital aspect of understanding key storage issues and their impact on enterprise viability.
“IP/Ethernet management tools are light years ahead of storage management tools, so one of the key benefits of iSCSI is the wealth of IP management infrastructure it brings to storage.”
John Joseph, EqualLogic
For example, many industry experts are currently touting serial interfaces such as Serial ATA (SATA) and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) as a technology that will have a long-term impact on storage device interconnects.
“SATA will continue to gain momentum in secondary storage applications,” states Kevin Wittmer, director of technical marketing, Maxtor Corporation. Wittmer says that the SATA II Working Group is currently defining enhancements to the first Serial ATA 1.0 specification that add more functionality for the entry-level server and network storage markets. Serial ATA II's enhanced features include command queuing, port multiplier, port selector, ganged cables, and staggered hard drive spin up.
Wittmer continues on the serial interface theme by touching on SAS, the next-generation SCSI disk and near-cabinet interface that was developed as a follow-up to the parallel SCSI interface. “SAS incorporates the advantages of serial technologies while preserving the 20+ years of investment in the SCSI command protocol,” says Wittmer.
The SAS interface was developed to meet the needs of mainstream enterprise-class storage systems and provide the flexibility required to meet the cost, availability, scalability, and performance requirements for future generations of storage systems and applications. Its point-to-point architecture will provide performance scalability beyond what is available in today's storage arrays based on the Parallel SCSI bus or the Fibre Channel arbitrated loop (FC-AL), according to Wittmer.
Because SAS is compatible with SATA, it will enable IT managers to select one universal storage system to meet all of these requirements. IT managers will be able to create ‘graded pools of storage’ with a single RAID system utilizing both SAS and Serial ATA drives.
These graded pools of storage capacity can be allocated to applications based on the application's requirements for performance, availability, capacity, and cost. “This allows the IT managers to maximize their investments and scale storage as their companies grow,” says Wittmer.
The Key Benefits of IP Storage
Other industry experts believe that the move to IP networks will have an equally important long-term impact on overall business by bringing rich interoperability, scalability, and manageability features to storage.
“By providing a common management and data path network fabric, administrators will be able to deploy management infrastructure more easily at a lower cost,” says John Joseph, vice president, marketing with EqualLogic, Inc. “IP/Ethernet management tools are light years ahead of storage management tools, so one of the key benefits of iSCSI is the wealth of IP management infrastructure it brings to storage.”
Joseph maintains that iSCSI and its sister name service iSNS will bind together devices using the common networking fabric of IP and Ethernet. And tried-and-true standards such as TCP/IP, iSCSI, iSNS, IPSec, and Ethernet will provide an affordable and familiar network infrastructure.
Page 2: Strategies and Best Practices for Promoting Effective Storage Management