SNW Europe: The teardrop explodes

Steve Cassidy ponders just how much storage we need, whether virtualised or not, as he looks back on his time at Storage Networking World (SNW) Europe.

A smile akin to that of the Cheshire Cat often appears when suppliers talk about this, though there is a technical trend that moderates the budgetary hit.

Archiving in massive storage arrays consists of a bet between the client and the supplier that boils down to how organised the client has been. If the storage problem has accelerated too fast, and the client's obsessive-compulsives haven't put everything in the right folders with the right metadata tags, then the only option for the client is to buy more storage.

A smile akin to that of the Cheshire Cat often appears when suppliers talk about this, though there is a technical trend that moderates the budgetary hit. If you're looking at megascale storage and you can't understand why thin provisioning is in the feature list just at the top of the product range, then look at it this way: If your SAN operating system can fool your compute pool about how many physical disks lie behind a certain claimed size of partition, then you can, in reality, defer buying the remainder of the disks to make physical match provisional. Callout here: The industry slips into jargon hell here and uses "virtual" to refer to thin-provisioned disks. I think this is a metaphor too far and "provisional" is both a pun, and more explicit to the concept. I hereby bequeath this notion Callout Ends

Thin provisioning is about as close as the storage business can get to the industry shift towards renting stuff they'd rather not take a capital budgetary hit to own. There are some trends which surface by way of the shadows they cast, and here I am thinking of outsourcing your internal storage pool. This is for companies that are a bit miffed by the dawdling nature and awkward signal-limiting attributes of the speed of light, never mind of a connection to the internet they want a monstrous fibre-channel SAN but they like the idea of monthly payments and they don't want a disk-changing guy on their payroll.

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