Ask the Expert

Definition of consolidated storage -- Part 2

What is your definition of consolidated storage?

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A modern centralization solution should be able to address any and all of the following at any time, and the company providing it should be able to explain exactly how they plan to meet each requirement and how much it will cost in the short and long term. Traditionally these were only addressed by 'enterprise' solutions, for an enterprise price, but that is no longer the case:


1. Scalable capacity without sacrificing high availability, performance

2. Scalable customizable, performance

3. Storage Management -- centralized optimization, configuring, monitoring

4. High Availability features, providing such things as:

  • Fully fault tolerant 2N architectural redundancy throughout all of the solution components as needed by the customer requirements
  • Zero-impact replication and zero-impact centralized, high performance backup/restore
  • Business continuance volume replication, including short increment time marked disk volume replication
  • Real time recovery from path, appliance, disk and application failover
  • Real time recovery from site failure

    5. Clustered heterogeneous file systems, heterogeneous host mapping, advanced security features

    6. Interoperability: Universal connectivity to existing storage, forming a single manageable pool of storage. Unified SAN and NAS

    In summary -- whatever the requirements, a given centralized solution should be able to meet those requirements, not the other way around. The company should not have to have their requirements fit the solution. In my opinion, this best way is a "best of breed" approach -- bringing together expert services and engineering to deliver tested cutting-edge technologies from different vendors. I feel that no single manufacturer is going to be able to be everything for everyone, nor ramp up engineering fast enough to keep up with everything that is out there. I also feel that this is why some of the bigger storage companies are hurting -- they are getting run over by the demand and trend toward commodity priced 'enterprise' feature sets along with a demand for lower cost storage solutions.

    The end result is, if you have a best of breed strategy, you are not tied to attempting to make any given solution fit, so the company benefits by getting the solution it needs for a competitive price. It might be that centralization strategy would be the result of going with a SAN, it might be a NAS or it might be a hybrid of both using virtualization.

    Back to Part I
  • This was first published in March 2002

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