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Infrastructure 101 | @CloudExpo #BigData #IoT #SDN #SDS #DataCenter
IT infrastructure fundamentals

In a series of articles, I am going to share my thoughts on the state of IT infrastructure and how we've arrived with current architecture trends.  The topic today is SAN.

Storage Area Networking (SAN) is a technology that solved a real problem that existed a couple decades ago. SANs have been a foundational piece of IT infrastructure architecture for a long time and have helped drive major innovations in storage.  But how relevant are SANs today in the age of software-defined datacenters? Let's talk about how we have arrived at modern storage architecture.

First, disk arrays were created to house more storage than could fit into a single server chassis.  Storage needs were outpacing the capacity of individual disks and the limited disk slots available in servers.  But adding more disk to a single server led to another issue, available storage capacity was trapped within each server.  If Server A needed more storage and Server B had a surplus, the only way to redistribute was to physically remove a disk from Server B and add it to Server A.  This was not always so easy because it might be breaking up a RAID configuration or there simply might not be the controller capacity for the disk on Server A.  It usually meant ending up with a lot of over-provisioned storage, ballooning the budget.

SANs solved this problem by making a pool of storage accessible to servers across a network. It was revolutionary because it allowed LUNs to be created and assigned more or less at will to servers across the network. The network was fibre channel in the beginning because ethernet LAN speeds were not quite up to snuff for disk I/O. It was expensive and you needed fibre channel cards in each server you needed connected to the SAN, but it still changed the way storage was planned in datacenters.

Alongside SAN, you had Network Attached Storage (NAS) which had even more flexibility than SAN but lacked the full storage protocol capabilities of SAN or Direct Attached Storage.  Still, NAS rose as a file sharing solution alongside SAN because it was less expensive and used ethernet.

The next major innovation was iSCSI which originally debuted before it's time. The iSCSI protocol allowed SANs to be used over standard ethernet connections. Unfortunately the ethernet networks took a little longer to become fast enough for iSCSI to take off but eventually it started to replace fibre channel networks for SAN as 1Gb and 10Gb networks became accessible. WIth iSCSi, SANs became even more accessible to all IT shops.

The next hurdle for SAN technology was the self-inflicted. The problem was that now an administrator might be managing 2 or more SANs on top of NAS and server-side Direct Attached Storage (DAS), and these different components did not play well together necessarily. There were so many SANs and NAS vendors that used proprietary protocols and management tools that it was once again a burden on IT.  Then along came virtualization.

The next innovation was virtual SAN technology. There were two virtualization paths that affected SANs. One path was trying to solve the storage management problem I had just mentioned, and the other path was trying to virtualize the SAN within hypervisors for server virtualization. These paths eventually crossed as virtualization became the standard.

Virtual SAN technology initially grew from outside SAN, not within, because SAN was big business and virtual SAN technology threatened traditional SAN.  When approaching server virtualization, though, virtualizing storage was a do or die imperative for SAN vendors. Outside of SAN vendors, software solutions were seeing the possibility with iSCSI protocols to place a layer of virtualization over SAN, NAS, and DAS and create a single, virtual pool of storage. This was a huge step forward in accessibility of storage but it came at a cost of both having to purchase the virtual SAN technology on top of the existing SAN infrastructure, and at a cost of efficiency because it effectively added another, or in some cases, multiple more layers of I/O management and protocols to what already existed.

When SANs (and NAS) were integrated into server virtualization, it was primarily done with Virtual Storage Appliances that were virtual servers running the virtual SAN software on top of the underlying SAN architecture.  With at least one of these VSAs per virtual host, the virtual SAN architecture was consuming a lot of compute resources in the virtual infrastructure.

So virtual SANs were a mess. If it hadn't been for faster CPUs with more cores, cheaper RAM, and flash storage, virtual SANs would have been a non-starter based on I/O efficiency. Virtual SANs seemed to be the way things were going but what about that inefficiency?  We are now seeing some interesting advances in software-defined storage that provide the same types of storage pooling as virtual SANs but without all of the layers of protocol and I/O management that make it so inefficient.

With DAS, servers have direct access to the hardware layer of the storage, providing the most efficient I/O path outside of raw storage access.  The direct attached methodology can and is being used in storage pooling by some storage technologies like HC3 from Scale Computing. All of the baggage that virtual SANs brought from traditional SAN architecture and the multiple layers of protocol and management they added don't need to exist in a software-defined storage architecture that doesn't rely on old SAN technology.

SAN was once a brilliant solution to a real problem and had a good run of innovation and enabling the early stages of server virtualization. However, SAN is not the storage technology of the future and with the rise of hyperconvergence and cloud technologies, SAN is probably seeing its sunset on the horizon.

About David Paquette
Starting with a degree in writing and a family history of software development, David entered the industry on the consumer end, providing tech support for dial up internet users before moving into software development as a software tester in 1999. With 16 years of software development experience moving from testing to systems engineering to product marketing and product management, David lived the startup and IPO experience with expertise in disaster recovery, server migration, and datacenter infrastructure. Now at Scale Computing as the Product Marketing Manager, David is leading the messaging efforts for hyperconverged infrastructure adoption.

Presentation Slides
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build thei...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously...

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WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers Include

MATTHIEU
Octoblu

MAHADEV
Cisco

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

FELICIANO
AMDG

PAUL
VenueNext

SMITH
Eviot

BEAMER
goTraverse

GETTENS
goTraverse

CHAMBLISS
ReadyTalk

HERBERTS
Cityzen Data

REITBAUER
Dynatrace

WILLIAM-
SON

Cloud
Computing

SCHMARZO
EMC

WOOD
VeloCloud

WALLGREN
Electric Cloud

VARAN-
NATH

GE

SRIDHARA-
BALAN

Pulzze

METRIC
Linux

MONTES
Iced

ARIOLA
Parasoft

HOLT
Daitan

CUNNING-
HAM

ReadyTalk

BEDRO-
SIAN

Cypress

NAMIE
Cisco

NAKA-
GAWA

Transparent
Cloud

SHIBATA
Transparent
Cloud

BOYD
Neo4j

WARD
DWE

MILLER
Covisint

EVAVOLD
Covisint

MEINER
Oracle

MEEHAN
Esri

WITECK
Citrix

LIANG
Rancher Labs

BUTLER
Tego

ROWE
IBM Cloud

SKILLERN
Intel

SMITH
Numerex
WebRTC Summit New York All-Star Speakers Include

CLELAND
HGST

VASILIOU
Catchpoint

WALLGREN
Electric Cloud

HINCH-
CLIFFE

7Summits

DE SOUZA
Cisco

RANDALL
Gartner

ARM-
STRONG

AppNeta

SMALL-
TREE

Cazena

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

DELOACH
Infobright

QUINT
Ontegrity

MALAU-
CHLAN

Buddy Platform

PALIOTTA
Vector

MITRA
Cognizant

KOCHER
Grey Heron

PAPDO
POULOS

Cloud9

HARLAN
Two Bulls

GOLO
SHUBIN

Bit6

PROIETTI
Location
Smart

MARTIN
nfrastructure

MOULINE
Everbridge

MARSH
Blue Pillar

PARKS
SecureRF

PEROTTI
Plantronics

HOFFMAN
EastBanc

WATSON
Trendalyze

BENSON-
OFF

Unigma

SHAN
CTS

MATTELA
Redpine

GILLEN
Spark
Coginition

SOLT
Netvibes

BERN-
ARDO

GE Digital

ROMAN-
SKY

TrustPoint

BEAMER
GoTransverse

LESTER
LogMeIn

PONO
-MAREVA

Google

SINGH
Sencha

CALKINS
Amadeus

KLEIN
Rachio

HOASIN
Aeris

SARKARIA
PHEMI

SPROULE
Metavine

SNELL
Intel

LEVINE
CytexOne

ALLEN
Freewave

MCCAL-
LUM

Falconstor

HYEDT
Seamless

WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers Include

SCHULZ
Luxoft

TAM-
BURINI

Autodesk

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

THURAI
SaneIoT

TURNER
Cloudian

ENDO
Intrepid

NAKAGAWA
Transparent

SHIBATA
Transparent

LEVANT-LEVI
testRTC

VARAN NATH
GE

COOPER
M2Mi

SENAY
Teletax

SKEEN
Vitria

KOCHER
Grey Heron

GREENE
PubNub

MAGUIRE
HP

MATTHIEU
Octoblu

STEINER-
JOVIC

AweSense

LYNN
AgilData

HEDGES
Cloudata

DUFOUR
Webroot

ROBERTS
Platform

JONES
Deep

PFEIFFER
NICTA

NIELSEN
Redis

PAOLAL-
ANTORIO

DataArchon

KAHN
Solgenia

LOPEZ
Kurento

KIM
MapR

BROMHEAD
Instaclustr

LEVINE
CytexOne

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

GORBA-
CHEV

Intelligent
Systems

THYKAT-
TIL

Navisite

TRELOAR
Bebaio

SIVARAMA-
KRISHNAN

Red Hat
Cloud Expo New York All-Star Speakers Included

DE SOUZA
Cisco

POTTER
SafeLogic

ROBINSON
CompTIA

WARUSA
-WITHANA

WSO2 Inc

MEINER
Oracle

CHOU
Microsoft

HARRISON
Tufin

BRUNOZZI
VMware

KIM
MapR

KANE
Dyn

SICULAR
Basho

TURNER
Cloudian

KUMAR
Liaison

ADAMIAK
Liaison

KHAN
Solgenia

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

SUSSMAN
Coalfire

ISAACSON
RMS

LYNN
CodeFutures

HEABERLIN
Windstream

RAMA
MURTHY

Virtusa

BOSTOCK
IndependenceIT

DE MENO
CommVault

GRILLI
Adobe

WILLIAMS
Rancher Labs

CRISWELL
Alert Logic

COTY
Alert Logic

JACOBS
SingleHop

MARAVEI
Cisco

JACKSON
Softlayer

SINGH
IBM

HAZARD
Softlayer

GALLO
Softlayer

TAMASKAR
GENBAND

SUBRA
-MANIAN

Emcien

LEVESQUE
Windstream

IVANOV
StorPool

BLOOM-
BERG

Intellyx

BUDHANI
Soha

HATHAWAY
IBM Watson

TOLL
ProfitBricks

LANDRY
Microsoft

BEARFIELD
Blue Box

HERITAGE
Akana

PILUSO
SIASMSP

HOLT
IBM Cloudant

SHAN
CTS

PICCIN-
INNI

EMC

BRON-
GERSMA

Modulus

PAIGE
CenturyLink

SABHIKHI
Cognitive Scale

MILLS
Green House Data

KATZEN
CenturyLink

SLOPER
CenturyLink

SRINIVAS
EMC

TALREJA
Cisco

GORBACHEV
Systems Services Inc.

COLLISON
Apcera

PRABHU
OpenCrowd

LYNN
CodeFutures

SWARTZ
Ericsson

MOSHENKO
CoreOS

BERMING-
HAM

SIOS

WILLIS
Stateless Networks

MURPHY
Gridstore

KHABE
Vicom

NIKOLOV
GetClouder

DIETZE
Windstream

DALRY-
MPLE

EnterpriseDB

MAZZUCCO
TierPoint

RIVERA
WHOA.com

HERITAGE
Akana

SEYMOUR
6fusion

GIANNETTO
Author

CARTER
IBM

ROGERS
Virtustream
Cloud Expo Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers

TESAR
Microsoft

MICKOS
HP

BHARGAVA
Intel

RILEY
Riverbed

DEVINE
IBM

ISAACSON
CodeFutures

LYNN
HP

HINKLE
Citrix

KHAN
Solgenia

SINGH
Bigdata

BEACH
SendGrid

BOSTOCK
IndependenceIT

DE SOUZA
Cisco

PATTATHIL
Harbinger

O'BRIEN
Aria Systems

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

BIANCO
Solgenia

PROCTOR
NuoDB

DUGGAL
EnterpriseWeb

TEGETHOFF
Appcore

BRUNOZZI
VMware

HICKENS
Parasoft

KLEBANOV
Cisco

PETERS
Esri

GOLDBERG
Vormetric

CUMBER-
LAND

Dimension

ROSENDAHL
Quantum

LOOMIS
Cloudant

BRUNO
StackIQ

HANNON
SoftLayer

JACKSON
SoftLayer

HOCH
Virtustream

KAPADIA
Seagate

PAQUIN
OnLive

TSAI
Innodisk

BARRALL
Connected Data

SHIAH
AgilePoint

SEGIL
Verizon

PODURI
Citrix

COWIE
Dyn

RITTEN-
HOUSE

Cisco

FALLOWS
Kaazing

THYKATTIL
TimeWarner

LEIDUCK
SAP

LYNN
HP

WAGSTAFF
BSQUARE

POLLACK
AOL

KAMARAJU
Vormetric

BARRY
Catbird

MENDEN-
HALL

SUPERNAP

SHAN
KEANE

PLESE
Verizon

BARNUM
Voxox

TURNER
Cloudian

CALDERON
Advanced Systems

AGARWAL
SOA Software

LEE
Quantum

OBEROI
Concurrent, Inc.

HATEM
Verizon

GALEY
Autodesk

CAUTHRON
NIMBOXX

BARSOUM
IBM

GORDON
1Plug

LEWIS
Verizon

YEO
OrionVM

NAKAGAWA
Transparent Cloud Computing

SHIBATA
Transparent Cloud Computing

NATH
GE

GOKCEN
GE

STOICA
Databricks

TANKEL
Pivotal Software


Testimonials
This week I had the pleasure of delivering the opening keynote at Cloud Expo New York. It was amazing to be back in the great city of New York with thousands of cloud enthusiasts eager to learn about the next step on their journey to embracing a cloud-first worldl."
@SteveMar_Msft
General Manager of Window Azure
 
How does Cloud Expo do it every year? Another INCREDIBLE show - our heads are spinning - so fun and informative."
@SOASoftwareInc
 
Thank you @ThingsExpo for such a great event. All of the people we met over the past three days makes us confident IoT has a bright future."
Yasser Khan
CEO of @Cnnct2me
 
One of the best conferences we have attended in a while. Great job, Cloud Expo team! Keep it going."

@Peak_Ten


Who Should Attend?
Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs & Vps of Technology, Chief Systems Engineers, IT Directors and Managers, Network and Storage Managers, Enterprise Architects, Communications and Networking Specialists, Directors of Infrastructure.

Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, & CIOs , Presidents & SVPs, Directors of Business Development , Directors of IT Operations, Product and Purchasing Managers, IT Managers.

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SYS-CON Media has a flourishing Media Partner program in which mutually beneficial promotion and benefits are arranged between our own leading Enterprise IT portals and events and those of our partners.

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Digital Transformation Blogs
FinTech Is Now Part of the CloudEXPO New York Program. Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expensive intermediate processes from their businesses. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 22nd CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO November 12-13, 2018 in New York City will find fresh new content in two new tracks called: FinTechEXPO New York Blockchain Event which will incorporate FinTech and Blockchain, as well as machine learning, artificial intellig...
David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company that delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Prior to Wasabi, David co-founded Carbonite, one of the world's leading cloud backup companies. A successful tech entrepreneur for more than 30 years, David got his start at ARP Instruments, a manufacturer of synthesizers for rock bands, where he worked with leading musicians of the day like Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Led Zeppelin. David has also co-founded five other companies including Computer Pictures Corporation - an early player in co...
Cloud adoption is a core component of digital transformation. Scaling the IT environment, making it resilient, and reducing costs are what organizations want. Hear from the author of the best selling Packtbook "Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions" as he presents and explains critical Cloud solution design considerations and technology decisions required to choose and deploy the right Cloud service and deployment models, that are aligned to your business and technology service requirements. This session will help you master the design considerations and operational trades required to adopt ...