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NASing Around

Primary storage needs a break from the capacity optimization drumbeat ... at least mine. Let's focus on one of the other top subjects at SNW: network-attached storage (NAS). It's certainly not a new technology, but NAS has remained near the top of everyone's mind and now with the growing interest in NFS and VMware, there's additional wind in the sails of NAS adoption.
Primary storage needs a break from the capacity optimization drumbeat ... at least mine. Let's focus on one of the other top subjects at SNW: network-attached storage (NAS). It's certainly not a new technology, but NAS has remained near the top of everyone's mind and now with the growing interest in NFS and VMware, there's additional wind in the sails of NAS adoption.Remember the NAS vs. SAN debates? They are dead. Clearly, NAS has moved beyond traditional file serving. Most NAS solutions now offer one or multiple forms of block storage. The major NAS vendors can or will be offering iSCSI at a minimum to present block storage, others have ventured out into Fibre Channel, NetApp seems to be all over FCoE, and I'm sure others will follow.

People are beginning to "get" Global File Systems. More than just an add-on via an appliance or software application, they're now being integrated into the NAS OS itself. Companies such as OnStor and BlueArc have been at this awhile and NetApp has been baking the integration of its Global File System for what seems like forever, but it appears they are finally ready for a phased rollout in 2009.

Now we get to start the "where should the Global File System exist" wars. Should it be separated from the storage OS like EMC Rainfinity, Brocade, F5, and others believe or should it be integrated into the NAS OS? Then there is a hybrid option available by some of the NAS gateway vendors, where they can just absorb all the storage. I knew we would get a something vs. something else out of this.

As I have said when I am in my "primary storage needs to be optimized" mode, Global File Systems may be the ideal recipe for primary storage optimization, but they are missing a key ingredient; automation. The next frontier coming from the global file system crowd is automated file management policy. These solutions will allow you to set policies, often by type or age, to move data to different types of storage. By the way, this could be to migrate active data up from Fibre to SSD, in addition to what we often think of, the migration of inactive data down from Fibre to SATA.

The other trend is clustering. Suddenly everyone seems to have a clustered NAS solution and, really, they deserve their own blog entry, don't they? Next time ....

If you missed the constant drumbeat about capacity optimization, make sure you register for our upcoming Webinar, "Demystifying Primary Storage Data Reduction."

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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