Storage

What is the new normal for unified storage?

Unified storage is one of the most versatile platforms for IT environments today. In this post, Rickatron discusses what features need to be in unified storage today.

I’ve written a number of times that I have come to like unified storage systems, including recently where I point out that unified storage shouldn’t be overlooked. Unified storage does multiple tasks in one controller and software suite. Historically, unified storage meant that a product does both block and file storage protocols. This would include things like Fibre Channel and iSCSI block storage protocols being delivered from the same controller that also delivers SMB (or CIFS) and NFS storage resources available as network storage protocols.

Recently, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) released the Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) series of products. There are a few interesting events over time that have made this happen. For one, the AMS series of disk systems are stopping new sales with the release of the HUS systems, and HDS recently acquired BlueArc in 2011, which provided high-performance and high-scale NAS systems. With those events, the HUS series of unified storage brings a lot of enterprise functionality to systems. One big thing that made me stop and think a bit was the fact that HUS supports not only just block and file storage protocols, but also object-based storage.

Object-based storage is the one note that caught my eye with the HUS platform release. This means that additional protocols can be leveraged to access storage resources on the same storage system that is in use for traditional block and network storage today. Object-based storage includes technologies such as http/REST, SMTP, and WebDAV, and in the Hitachi line that is done with the Hitachi Content Platform, so these cloud technologies and applications fit right in to object-based storage technologies. These are storage terms usually associated with cloud technologies (especially public clouds), and now they are readily available on a storage platform that you can manage on-premise. This is an area where IT organizations can address one of the biggest challenges out there for virtualization and cloud computing: how do we change the application without losing control of our data and applications? These are private cloud storage technologies that are ready to go with all of the enterprise features required for today’s environments.

While traditional unified storage systems deliver features like storage replication, storage snapshots, and thin provisioning, the HUS series brings in new features that are the normal in storage today, such as SSD support, automatic storage tiering, active-active controllers, LUN migration, and more.

The issue with making a storage decision today is that there are so many new technologies out there that leverage intelligence on solid state storage technologies. Between the solid state disruption and all of the new storage features available, the storage administrator is challenged to make the best decision. For small and mid-size environments, unified storage can be a great win. Further, adding truly enterprise-class features to the unified storage offering makes it a compelling decision to leverage this type of platform for current and future storage needs based on performance, features, and capacity.

Have you dabbled with unified storage? Does object-based storage appeal to you? Share your comments below.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

2 comments
Daniel Breslauer
Daniel Breslauer

NetApp does all of these... and has been doing it for years. You can run CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, FC, and (though nobody uses these) FCoE, HTTP, FTP, WebDav, on the same set of disks (aggregate), even, if you wanted. So what's new here, exactly?