Storage is Sexy Again

Today’s storage industry news is certainly exciting; EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) has  announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to  acquire Isilon Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: ISLN)

Coming on the heels of HP’s acquisition of 3Par, two broad themes are clear:

1) Storage is, indeed, “sexy” again. This is not surprising, in an environment where unstructured data is growing by 60% or more each year and 50% of all applications are expected to be virtualized in the next 3 years.

2) In particular, the scale-out approach to storage is gaining momentum. 3Par, of course, is known for its innovations in thin provisioning and scale-out SAN. Isilon virtually defined the market for scale-out NAS.

The advantages of a scale-out approach over a scale-up approach are clear. The scale-out architecture allows resources to be added as required for capacity and performance. Disk, compute, and I/O resources can be added independently for higher performance. Contrast this to the scale-up approach where enterprises must:

a) Upgrade to bigger and bigger boxes as capacity or performance needs require, and/or

b) Significantly over-provision, buying capacity and performance now for needs that may or may not materialize over the next three years and foregoing any price decreases that may occur.

Because products like 3Par, Isilon, and Gluster are scale-out, you only buy what you need when you need it.

Of course, we believe that the recent spate of acquisitions is a harbinger of even greater things to come.

Over the past ten years, enterprises have seen enormous gains as they migrated from proprietary, monolithic server architectures to architectures that are virtualized, open source, standardized, and commoditized. The move to cloud architectures promises even greater advances in both flexibility and economics.

Unfortunately, storage has not kept pace with computing. The proprietary, monolithic, and scale-up solutions that dominate the storage industry today do not deliver the economics, flexibility, and scaling that the modern data center needs in a hyper growth, virtualized, and cloud-based world. We think that it is inevitable that storage must evolve not only to support the new compute environment, but must also begin to “look” more like the computing world. In addition to being scale out, storage should also begin to reflect:

-Open source

-Fully commoditized hardware

-The ability to work both on-premise and in the cloud

-The ability to work across a wide range of workloads

-Wide embracing of standards (including POSIX and standard data storage formats)

-Automation

-Multi-tenancy

And more.

The following are a couple of visual models we’ve been using at Gluster to guide our thinking.

View more presentations from Gluster.

In conclusion…Congratulations and best wishes to both EMC and Isilon. And for those looking to get more educated on scale-out storage (and according to Greg Schulz that’s a popular topic today) Check out Greg’s article from last year on Clarifying Clustered Storage Confusion. Things are bound to get even more exciting in storage!

  1. Nice post,

    One could debate however if compute is driving storage, storage driving networking, networking driving compute, storage driving compute, hardware pushing software or software pushing hardware. The common theme is to pick the driver as being from the field or technology domain you are associated with or have a preference towards. However, there is another perspective which is that you cannot have hardware without software, software without hardware (sorry, cloud and virtual still need physical resources 😉 ).

    Compute needs memory of which storage is a part of, memory and compute need I/O which networking is a part of. Thus they are tied together and on any given Sunday one can win and one can lose or be seen as pushing or driving the other. What’s really driving all of the above is that there is no such thing as an information recession meaning that there is more data to process, move and store, a trend that shows no sign of changing in the near term future.

    Cheers gs

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