When we stop and consider about it, a storage systems we use are all finished to a flattering simple
formula. The SAN, a NAS, a disk
backup and information deduplication hardware–from a lowliest desktop NAS to a craving Fibre Channel behemoths,
they are all finished from dual ingredients.
The initial pivotal part is a thing that indeed effects information storage: a tough drive, of
which there are comparatively few variations that are roughly totally interchangeable. The second
key part is a determining software, a handling system. This is a bit that enables
storage vendors to make billions of dollars and to close business into their product
There are some hugely rich empires built on this structure, that in some senses appears
quite fragile. After all, it isn‚Äôt a hardware in a storage complement that is singular though merely the
software; it‚Äôs literally a set of ideas about how systems should work set down in coded form.
It‚Äôs a consternation that software-only products and, in particular, open
source software have not taken off in storage to a larger border than they have.
We‚Äôve seen a insubordinate outcome of a subdivision between hardware and program elsewhere in
IT. In a universe of servers, open source, privately in a form of Linux, shook adult a vast cube of
the attention over a past decade or so. Look behind to a spin of a millennium and a server
scene wasn‚Äôt separate to what you‚Äôll find among a giants of storage today. There were several
large players in a Unix
server market, any with a possess essence of Unix that ran usually on a specific chronicle of a RISC
processor: HP with HPUX, IBM with AIX, Sun with Solaris, Compaq with Tru64 and so on.
That universe collapsed as Linux became a viable choice as a server handling complement for the
type of jobs before a safety of Unix and that, crucially, were means to run on commodity x86
servers. Suddenly, a existent in-built lock-ins of a Unix universe evaporated, and Linux became an
economic choice for core craving apps such as SAP and database serving.
This subdivision of hardware and handling program by open source, and in sold a Linux
manifestation, brought some outrageous changes in a IT landscape, though it didn‚Äôt conquer a world. The
desktop, for example, remained stubbornly resistant to Linux solely among a little series of nerdy
enthusiasts and was positively never on a cards for a enterprise. The pivotal miss of traction here
was not usually a outcome of a bad expansion of Linux as a desktop OS, though simply since there was
no need to avoid a processor/OS lock-in that existed with Unix servers.
Storage subsystems are, however, roughly as distant as we can get from a commodity inlet of an
organisation‚Äôs desktop estate. SAN and NAS systems are mostly bought in pairs or clusters of
multiple inclination and are a biggest sheet equipment in a information centre. They also perceptible a clear
hardware/software lock-in. So, are they exposed to a form of crowd that open source gathering into
the server market?
Well, there is a tiny though poignant stream of open source storage available.
Sun‚Äôs ZFS, for example, is a record complement that is entirely featured and scalable and, nonetheless not
on ubiquitous release, can be incorporated into Linux and a Free BSD handling systems and unified
storage systems built from it regulating commodity hardware. Some tiny vendors, such as GreenBytes and
Nexenta, have finished precisely this, though it‚Äôs a plan theoretically within strech of an in-house IT
Meanwhile, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform provides shared-storage access, including
support for CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, Fibre Channel and FCoE. And FreeNAS, that is built on FreeBSD Unix,
supports CIFS, NFS, FTP, iSCSI, Rsync and AFP (Apple File Protocol).
So, a thought of an open source storage revolution, with an handling complement and file system built into
commodity hardware, isn‚Äôt too good a widen of a imagination. Illustrative of this is a fact
that EMC, for example, uses versions of Linux in a Rainfinity, Data Domain, RecoverPoint, VPlex
and Avamar appliances, despite with formula bases customised to those implementations.
And a intensity subdivision of storage hardware and program is not limited to a use of
open source OSes. Vendors such as LeftHand and DataCore, for example, already offer their SAN
products as software, while a likes of Nasuni and TwinStrata sell unsentimental NAS inclination that only
exist as program too.
Logic seems to advise that one day it will be common for business in businesses of all sizes
to buy storage handling systems, estimate energy and hoop hardware separately. But when that day
will come is open to speculation. All kinds of blurb interests and unsentimental hurdles lie
between here and there, and that is a theme for thoughtfulness in a destiny editorial.
28 Jun 2011