Yesterday I had the pleasure of being one of four speakers at the network storage event sponsored by the CFITS (Central Florida Information Technology Society). All four presentations have been put together in a single power point that is posted on the CFITS website. I’ve included a flash version of just the GeeForce slides here. The great thing about events put on by CFITS is that they attract some really bright people and top tier vendors. While all of the presentations were good two stuck out in my mind.
Xiotech gets storage
I enjoyed the Xiotech presentation by Peter Selin whose presentation followed mine. His emphasis on true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculations and understanding how the applications use storage dovetailed very nicely with points I had made earlier. Xiotech’s presentation went a step further and went into application tuning and how that affects storage performance. A good part of the presentation was “SSD facts or fiction”. There was an enlightening graph on SSD (Solid State Drives) sustained IOPS vs Time. This was nothing new for those of us with SSD server experience, but an eye opener for a lot of people in the room.
If you’re unfamiliar with Xiotech’s concept, then now might be the time to explain what they do. Xiotech looks at storage like a “black box”. It doesn’t matter what’s in the box – what matters is the capacity, throughput and reliability of the data storage. Their solutions utilize Fiber Channel and provide the foundation for a high performance SAN (Storage Area Network). One of the most unique aspects is that the end user no longer worries about individual drives and data redundancy. Data redundancy is taken care of by “the box”. To add more capacity, add another box. This moves intelligence out of controllers and applications into storage where it belongs. Just like intelligent networks, having the right intelligence in the right place makes a lot of sense.
I haven’t had a chance to test or use the products but their architecture deserves a very close look when high performance storage is called for. The company is talking about Fiber Channel over Ethernet in the future and I hope that they also look at Ata Over Ethernet (AoE) as well.
Cisco goes after the datacenter
Cisco’s presentations always pique my interest. This is a company that spends a lot of time figuring out how to produce a better mouse trap (or buying the company that has) and it shows.
Network and Storage Cisco’s approach is a continuation of the approach that it helped pioneer, network convergence. Yesterday’s converging voice, video, and data via IP is passé; Cisco is now converging the SAN/LAN (Local Area Network) networks into a unified fabric. With Fiber Channel over Ethernet the same network is used for SAN and LAN connectivity, simplifying cabling and switches. With Cisco’s Fiber Channel/Ethernet modules for their Nexus class switches, Cisco is providing a bridge between the current SAN and LAN. With 10GE (Gigabit Ethernet) networks already here and 40GE just around the corner, the writing is on the wall. Eventually all LAN & SAN traffic will be carried on the same network. Robert Metcalfe’s invention lives eternal.
Servers and Virtualization This part of Cisco’s offering is where we see radical innovation. Cisco doesn’t have a history of building servers so their approach is clean sheet and unique from what I’ve seen from other vendors. What Cisco did was look at large virtualized environments holistically not just focusing on server, storage, or network individually. Cisco has tried to converge and unify many components of a large virtulized environment and build management into the entire environment from the get go. They call their approach the Unified Computing System or UCS.
The UCS structure combines a unified (or should we say converged?) 10GE network fabric with unique super high memory blade servers that can support up to 384 GB DDR3. The management of the entire structure is built in. Cisco provides for a virtualized switch within each blade, each virtualized server can be centrally managed in it’s entirety. Moving a virtual instance from one blade to another becomes simpler because the network moves with the instance and doesn’t require reprogramming the switch. Cisco’s approach will change the entire management experience for large virtualized environments.
Both presentations have given me a great excuse to deep dive into the vendor’s technology and applications thereof. Cisco is showing off their C-Series servers in Orlando on March 9th (register for that even t here) and there is some good reading material over a Xiotech. Keeping up with new technology and it’s application is one of the things I enjoy most about my job.