FCoE or iSCSI; battle royal brewing

Lock-in or escape

There are two ways to extend access to Fibre Channel storage area networks (FC SANs) to servers without FC host bus adapters (HBAs): Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE); or iSCSI. Both use Ethernet as the transport medium but one locks you in to Fibre Channel and the other provides an escape route.

With iSCSI, SCSI storage commands and data are wrapped up inside TCP/IP data packets and sent across Ethernet to a storage resource. This could be a pure IP SAN, such as those from Dell/EqualLogic and LeftHand Networks or it could be a Fibre Channel SAN via an iSCSI port on an intervening FC fabric switch or director.

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Transitions: the fourth storage wave

Accelerated I/O for parallel access

There is a fourth wave of disk array-based storage products coming. They are aimed at applications needing massive amounts of simultaneous I/O from high-capacity arrays, and products are arriving from the video surveillance, video streamig, high-performance computing (HPC), web 2.0 and cloud (storage as a service, part of a service) areas.

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Application-aware storage selling

One storage size does not fit all applications

Having storage attuned to an application so that it both delivers crisp application storage response and high utilisation, meaning less money spent spinning empty space, sounds like a very good idea.

Pillar, funded by Oracle boss Larry Ellison’s Tako Ventures, has just announced a sales with with ScanSafe, a web services company using an Oracle 10g database. The appeal of Pillar, or one aspect of its appeal, was that Pillar’s Axiom storage is better attuned to Oracle than any other storage product.

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The new goldrush; lawyers strip mining for gold

Ediscovery needs smarter content searching

The military have ‘search and destroy’ missions but eDiscovery is about search and detect missions, and they can cost much more. A major eDiscovery case could involve the review of more than 10 million documents.

These are scanned by expensive lawyers looking for smoking guns relevant to the case they are pursuing or defending. It has to be lawyers because they know the case context and details; they will recognise things that are significant as they review hundreds of thousands if not millions of documents.

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Tape tracking ain’t easy

Track a load ? Yes. A cartridge? No

Fujifilm USA has introduced Tape Tracker which it says is a tape tracking service. That’s a bit optimistic. What it actually is is a pretend tape cartridge that is actually a wireless transmitter. This sends out a signal to an SC-Integrity load tracking network command centre which plots its location.

The idea is to protect lorry loads or containers against hijacking and the service is branded LoJack. If an individual tape or group of tapes is taken off the lorry then the system is near useless. It can probably tell you where the lorry was if you know when the tapes were taken but not otherwise.

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Seagate’s areal density roadmap

Lots and lots of capacity headroom

Seagate is currently in its second generation of perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology. This technology has a way to go and will be followed, Seagate believes, by two other technologies leading to more than 10 terabits of information per square inch of disk drive recording media.

The 3-step area density improvement road map comes from a Seagate presentation to analysts in September last year by Dave Wickersham, the company’s President and COO, and looks like this:-

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Seagate’s flash SSD intentions

If the customer wants flash, we’ll have it

This is the Seagate position concerning flash solid state drives: “(It) is not if, there is no if, we are in it.” And that comes from the man who should know; Seagate CEO BIll Watkins.

Here is Watkins and his team talking at a 2007 Seagate analysts’ meeting:

“– I think one of the misconceptions people have is that we don’t believe in solid-state storage. I made an announcement a couple of weeks ago that we’re going to do flash drives. Flash drives won’t happen in the near-term. Hybrids will be a little nearer, but they’re still far out there. But, that’s not our value proposition.

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Whither Document Sciences?

EMC Document Sciences and Documentum integration

EMC has satisfactorily complete another acquisition, that of Document Sciences, which has become an independent business unit inside EMC, called EMC Document Sciences, (in)conveniently acronymised as EDS. Since that acronym is already spoken for it isn’t being used. (We’ll use EMC-DS to avoid excessive typing.)

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Apple and ZFS

What is going on with Apple and Sun’s ZFS (Zettabyte File System)?

ZFS, based at least in part on NetApp’s WAFL (Write Anywhere File Layout), has a 128-bit addressing scheme and can address 256 quadrillion zettabytes. A zettabyte is 1 billion terabytes. The basic capacity is just huge. ZFS delivers one storage volume to a host computer’s O/S and abstracts all the component disk drives and arrays to form that volume. Sun says that it has profound administration and data security advantages over other file systems.

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Doorways in and out

Xsan Xamination – 3

This is the third part of our Apple Xsan examination.

Going outside the garden wall

By adding a Windows or Linux server running the Quantum-sourced StorNext FX product non-Mac OS X clients can be added to the Xsan network of accessing systems. For example, Windows client systems with FC HBAs and a FC link to the Xsan switch can access Xsan volumes. The StorNext server acts as a translation facility mapping their file access calls to and from Xsan calls.

The reverse is true. Mac and Xserve clients with Xsan can be added to an existing StorNext SAN environment via an intervening Windows or Linux box running StorNext.

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