Companies like 3PAR, Compellent and ZFS based products like Nexenta are trying to break the volume based model to a pooled storage approach. All the storage is placed into a globally available storage pool. All the servers have access to all of the storage, you just need to tell each server how much capacity it can have and possibly what tier of storage it can use. There are no LUNs and specific volume assignments to manage.
The key gain here is the elimination of the time spent by storage managers managing LUNs and volumes. A shared storage pool essentially reduces the job to one of managing global capacity and as we discuss in our article on Thin Provisioning Basics, most pooled storage systems provision capacity thinly. In actuality you are only managing used capacity.
The storage system will make decisions on what data should go where automatically. Some of these systems can self-optimize themselves to deliver better performance by moving data to the edge of hard drive platters, wide striping data or by automatically migrating between tiers of storage.
For some storage managers, losing the feeling of control of knowing exactly what data is on which drives is the biggest challenge. While most pooled storage systems will let you provision storage in the classic hard set, this data goes here method it is not ideal. Given the stack of virtual machines, physical hosts, SAN, Volumes and LUNs, the data center now deals with the classic model has become almost unmanageable. Letting the storage system do the work is a better use of the storage manager's time.
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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.