Anarchy in a storage frame: No destiny for SANs

March 30, 2015 - photo frame


I review with some entertainment several weeks ago Robin Harris’ essay “Why SSDs are obsolete”. He creates a few current points, as a finish re-architecture of a primarily used storage train technologies (SAS, SATA) need a unfortunate make-over.

After all, SAS and SATA are simply evolutionary improvements from a SCSI and ATA interface record that proceeded them, some 20 and 30 years earlier. And a server record has eclipsed it, as has a ever augmenting need for data-driven applications.

Should a attention be meditative about modernizing a elemental storage bus/backplane technology? Heck yes.

But these are quite educational issues when a genuine problems confronting enterprises aren’t so many removing those IOPS for a many perfectionist of data-driven applications, though a sum cost of tenure of that storage.

In a largest enterprises information stretch continues to be some-more and some-more of concern, generally in regulated industries that need long-term information influence and need to keep that information in an online, prepared to be accessed state rather than by regulating archival storage technologies, such as fasten or even Cloud Integrated Storage.

Let’s get right to it. Your craving SAN and NAS hardware is super costly and they substantially minister to during slightest one third if not some-more of your datacenter hardware spend. And while a vendors of these products have clever reputations and we rest on these frames to store your many mission-critical data, let’s face it — there isn’t a lot of tip salsa inside these refrigerator-sized boxes filled with tough drives.

You’ve got SAS and SATA backplanes, controllers, storage fabric interfaces and some special program that performs a partitioning of a trays for LUN presentation. Most of these controllers run on some exclusive chronicle of UNIX or even BSD derivatives that we never get to see — a storage businessman keeps we out of it, withdrawal we to their application software.

For a many part, a SAN or NAS support is a black box to we after we have chopped adult a trays and presented a LUN to a server.

There is an finish to this costly madness, though it requires some artistic and disruptive meditative on a partial of an craving — and that means entrance storage only like a hyperscale use provider does.

And when we meant hyperscale I’m articulate a Amazon Web Services, a Microsoft Azures and a Google Compute Engines of a world.

You don’t consider these companies conduct to cost out rock-bottom cloud storage regulating EMCs and NetApps, do you? Of march not. They’d go pennyless if they did.

Instead of SANs and NAS appliances, hyperscale providers have been mostly regulating JBODs — effectively, pools of “Just a Bunch of Disks” for years. Unlike SMBs or enterprises, these hyperscale cloud providers combined their possess storage architectures regulating commodity parts, JBODs and homegrown engineering knowledge in sequence to move their storage costs down approach next their craving counterparts.

For a many part, a “secret sauce” to building a commodity storage design has not been standardized, and a also been hampered by a fact that one of a vital blockers to doing things this approach was a continued faith on fiber-channel HBAs to yield a clustered storage fabric, that was still expensive.

With converged 10Gigabit and 40Gigabit Ethernet networks, specialized RDMA Ethernet cards and a appearance of a SMB 3.0 network storage protocol, however, this is fast changing.

The judgment is sincerely elementary — bond mixed record server “heads” to your existent switched Ethernet fabric, and use mixed JBODs (such as those done by DataOn, Dell, or Supermicro) filled with a multiple of SAS 15K and SSD in a tiered pattern connected to those heads in a SAS clustered formation.


The record server heads in spin bond to your virtualization hosts or earthy systems that yield connectivity to your information regulating SMB 3.0. The resiliency is built into a handling complement providing a storage itself, rather than some exclusive tip salsa built into a controllers within a storage frame, as in a box of a SAN or NAS.

In my instance above, I’m regulating Microsoft’s Scale-out File Server (SoFS) that comes built-in for giveaway with Windows Server 2012 R2 and is also formed on Microsoft’s Storage Spaces that is a software-defined storage that is built into a OS. The storage hardware used in this unfolding is DataOn’s DNS-1660D in multiple with commodity Dell R820 rackmount servers and Mellanox RDMA cards.

The pattern described in a whitepaper related above is able of achieving postulated speeds of over 1 million IOPS per second.

Dell itself has also published a possess whitepaper on how to build a SoFS regulating a MD1220 PowerVault JBOD arrays, though conceivably, any multiple of JBOD and commodity x86 server hardware regulating SAS and 10Gbps Ethernet connectivity following these simple architectural discipline should work.

Besides Microsoft’s SoFS and Storage Spaces, there are other vendors that yield identical JBOD-based storage architectures, such as Nexenta (which is formed on Solaris’ ZFS). For Linux, there is HA-LVM and GFS/GFS2 that is provided with RedHat’s Resilient Storage add-on. On Ubuntu Server, a homogeneous is called ClusterStack. If you’re looking for a Linux software-defined storage design that is a bit some-more pre-packaged, we competence wish to inspect QuantaStor by OSNEXUS.

The bottom line is that while SANs and NAS are proven and reliable, their omnipotence of providing a top opening and many volatile storage for a dollar is entrance to an end.

If you’re a intelligent CxO perplexing to cut down on your ever augmenting storage costs, start looking into what a hyperscale cloud providers do — use JBODs and a program tangible storage built into complicated server handling systems, and precedence Cloud Integrated Storage as good for those apps that don’t need to precedence near-line storage or can keep archival information in a Cloud.

Has your classification started regulating software-defined storage regulating commodity hardware yet? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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