End of enterprise high end storage?
What is high end enterprise storage? This huge bad-ass high performance storage arrays in the size of multiples of racks? At the end: Not much more than a SAN in a box with an intelligent storage controller in front of it. Manufactures like Hitachi or EMC make a large wad of money out of this devices. But: I don´t believe that storage boxes of this size will be a reasonable market in 5 years from now. The storage vendors will be the next group of manufacturers, who will get problems with the comoditization of computer hardware. I thought about this idea the last few days, after reading about the integration of the SCSI Remote DMA protocol over Infiniband in Solaris. Sun works hard to integrate more and more storage features into Solaris. A new SCSI target framework, more and more features for ZFS, CIFS, NFS … you name it. After a while a idea came into my mind: Lets take some racks full of X4500 (with SATA disks with the mechanical specifications of high end FC disks), perhaps a next generation one with a large amount of RAM for caching, two quad cores for encryption and compression and background scrubbing of the data and remote replication. Substitute some disks with solid state disks for the seperated ZIL and the L2ARC to speed up ZFS. Build an Infiniband network between it. Take a UltraSPARC T2 or an Victoria Falls based system or two as storage controller for serving iSCSI, FC Target, CIFS, NFS … . And a clever management software to control this configuration from a single point and intelligent distribution of the storage usage over all boxes.. At the end you will get something in the size and the performance of an high end storage box but with a much smaller price as you use commodity components with commodity servers. Okay, there are some missing pieces and many components must go trough an optimisation until competing with high end storage. But this will definitly come. And when Sun doesn´t to it, someone else will to it.