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Monday, October 09, 2006

Array Chart Rev 2 and Responses to Comments

I added another array vendor to my Array chart - Agami. They are another startup doing scaleable NAS with file-aware services that runs on low-cost commodity hardware. So, they go in the upper left somewhere near Isilon. I update the chart in my previous post.

Responses to Several Comments
Thanks for the great comments over the last several weeks. Good comments on NFS V4 that I need to do more research on. Here are responses to some of the others:

Good corrections and additions to my description of Isilon. I updated my notes in Part II.

EMC and Innovation
Good point that just because EMC acquired a bunch of companies it doesn't justify being an 'innovator'. I guess I'm giving credit to those new EMC employees who did some new and unique things before getting acquired by EMC. In particular, I like what VMWare, Rainfinity, Invista, and some of the other Data Services start-ups created.

iSCSI IP overhead and ATA over Ethernet
One comment questioned why anyone would take the overhead of running IP for iSCSI traffic verses just using ATA over ethernet and who is using IP to route iSCSI traffic. I'm not enough of an IP expert to really answer that but I do have two comments. One, I've talked to several datacenter managers who are looking at moving apps from big-iron to dual and quad-x64 rack servers. They're finding they have plenty of spare processing power and, for now at least, wouldn't even notice if they had a more efficient protocol stack. Second, a big reason for using iSCSI is to get the automated network utility protocols such as DHCP and DNS for their ethernet SAN. Can ATA over ethernet work in a such a network?

Had a comment requesting more insight into what's going on in Sunlabs. I'm not with Sun anymore (why I've moved to blogspot for weblogging) but, Sun really has become very open and transparent and you can put together a lot by reading their blogs and by looking at open Solaris. Jonathan's blog is always a good way to learn where his head is at. In his post The Rise of the General Purpose System he talks about custom storage hardware getting replaced with commodity HW running specialized, but open-source-based software and specifically mentions their Thumper project that packs 48 drives into a 4U enclosure with a standard x64 motherboard. Another interesting one is Jeremy Werner's Weblog where he talks about Honeycomb. This is software, based on Solaris that stores data reliably across a large number of commodity storage platforms, (such as Thumpers) and provides a Content Addressable Storage (CAS) API. So, imagine building your own Google inside your datacenter for your companies knowledge base.

Other visible datapoints: Lots of blogs and visibility (including open source) around ZFS and it's interesting file-level data services. OpenSolaris.com includes some interesting storage-related projects including iSCSI with both initiator and target-side functionality, and an Object SCSI Disk (OSD) driver. Sun continues to lead enhancements to NFS to give it the availability and performance to finally displace block/FC in the enterprise datacenter. Many highly mission-critical datacenters continue to run SAM-FS to automatically archive and store huge filesystems across both disk arrays and tape libraries.

Put all this together and what you might expect are NAS storage products with an iSCSI option, based on Solaris, running ZFS, with standard AMD64 and Sparc motherboards. They will come in scaleable, rack-mount form factors. You might have the option to run Honeycomb to build large content-searchable storage farms or the option to use SAM to archive data to tape libraries.

Keep the comments coming!