The future of storage

So in a previous post, VMware Fundamentals Part 3 I talked about VMware and storage, and made a case for a mixed protocol storage environment. While I stand behind what I said, I always think it is interesting to take a deeper look at the industry. Calvin Zito, the HP storage guy, made some very good points in his post, Block of File Based Storage for VMware which got me thinking a bit more. That coupled with the recent product releases from HP have inspired me to talk a little more about this topic.

Calvin points out some compelling points about how block gets the most attention on the development cycle from VMware, and at this point, with the software initiators, and the ease of use, it often makes more sense to simply use a block based protocol.

That being said, in many virtual environments, we often find that the traditional storage array doesn’t fit the bill. We are running a number of host servers, with internal storage that is going to waste. So how do we take advantage of this lost capacity, and how can we lower our costs while adding additional value?

A tough concept for many of us who came up through the ranks of storage administration to swallow is that storage is not king any more. It is certainly important, but gone are the days when I can walk into a company as a storage admin and name my price. Now certainly as a Storage Architect I can demand more, but even so, I am required to know more than just storage. The really tough part though is storage is no longer defined as a monolithic array. We have to start embracing the concept that storage, like everything else must be defined as software. This becomes more and more important when we look at the move toward ITaaS. Nicholas Carr drives this point home in his book, The Big Switch.

So the short answer to the question, what is the future of storage, much like compute, networking, and the rest of what we do, the future of storage is software. Whether it is open source or supported by a company such as HP, this is where we are headed.

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The future of storage