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2/2/2011
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George Crump
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10GbE Storage And The SME

Most of the server vendors have announced that before the end of 2011 they will be providing servers with 10GbE built into the motherboard. This LAN on motherboard (LOM) approach is something that storage vendors, maybe more so than networking vendors, need to be paying attention to as it will provide high performance storage access to the masses.

Most of the server vendors have announced that before the end of 2011 they will be providing servers with 10GbE built into the motherboard. This LAN on motherboard (LOM) approach is something that storage vendors, maybe more so than networking vendors, need to be paying attention to as it will provide high performance storage access to the masses.10GbE and the SME

One of the first areas of migration to 10GbE is going to be the small to medium sized enterprises (SME) and they are going to use it for storage. First SMBs have, typically, less invested in their infrastructure so a change to a new one is going to be easier and less expensive. Second, 10GbE is becoming so affordable that most small businesses can justify the expense now. 10GbE Ethernet switches, especially from the secondary tier of suppliers, are extremely cost effective. Third, most SMBs need 10GbE for storage more than they need if for other types of connectivity. SMBs are moving to shared storage sooner than ever, thanks not only to server virtualization but for standard business applications,as we discussed in our recent article "Shared Storage For SMB Server Bundles".

10GbE's role in storage will be more than just providing iSCSI access to volumes. NFS based storage as a platform for server virtualization will continue to see adoption as will FCoE. There is also room for new protocols, especially when dealing with unique massively random I/O workloads as we discussed in our article "High Performing Virtualized Workloads Require A New Storage Protocol".

One of the reasons to shift to 10GbE sooner is simplicity. While 1GbE is inexpensive, scaling its performance is expensive from a time perspective. You need to know how to configure ports, interface cards and operating systems to be able to converge separate connections together. You also need to be able to know how to change those configurations when needing to add more bandwidth or move bandwidth somewhere else. 10GbE is just one fast and simple connection between servers and storage. While its true that most enterprises on a per server basis won't be able to fully utilize 10GbE, its simpler and easier just to let some bandwidth go to waste. It more than likely solves the performance problem you were having and you can always fine tune later.

10GbE is not limited to deployment as a storage protocol, as we will discuss in an upcoming entry it may prove an ideal way to extend the PCIe bus and enable a more rapid migration to I/O Virtualization.

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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

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