The most common place to enable storage services is on the storage system itself. This is a tried and true approach and this is the way most people get their storage services. The competition between vendors is to see just how many storage services they can pack into their systems and how well those services can be delivered. Capabilities like virtualization, thin provisioning and now automated tiering are vying for your attention. Delivering storage services at the storage system level however is not without its detractors. Most will site that this method locks you into a single vendor for additional capacity and for the most part that is an accurate assertion. It also means that you are locked into them for all the storage services. If one storage vendor comes out with a great way to do automated tiering then you can't add that capability to your system. You have to wait until your vendor comes out with it. The exception is if the capability comes out on one of the other types of storage service deliverables.
Over the next several entries we will dissect the remaining three locations for delivering data services as they each have unique advantages. However they all share a common advantage; they don't care what type of storage you have. Essentially these techniques are lifting the storage services intelligence off of the storage system and placing it somewhere else. That could be on the switch, on a dedicated server in the environment or on the application server itself.
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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.