Feeds

Data centre fuzzification: Clear thinkers needed

How Cisco is trashing the server-storage-switch boundaries

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Comment: Traditional and clear-cut boundaries between servers, network switches and storage gear are breaking down - and skirmishes, in this uncertain new era of fuzzification, are bound to break out.

In the good old days - such as the decade up to 2007 - a clearly defined server talked by a network link to a switch which connected it to shared storage. This was a stable situation with distinct groups of suppliers providing the three pieces.

We had EMC, HDS, NetApp and OEM suppliers like Dot Hill, LSI and Xyratex, providing networked storage arrays. Then we had networking suppliers such as Cisco, Brocade, Juniper, Foundry and Extreme providing switches of various sorts with ancillary suppliers like Emulex and QLogic providing server adapter interfaces.

Fuzzy data centre

Data centre server, storage and switch edges are blurring.

Finally there were the server suppliers - Dell, HP, IBM and Sun for example - who were, unlike the previous two groups, not pure-play vendors, but multi-play ones providing a full system made of of server and storage components and networking gear although much networking gear and storage kit came to the buyer of the system from specific vendors.

This decade-long steadiness started breaking down as the commoditisation of server hardware and operating software made servers cheap and ubiquitous. After all, a networking switch has a processor, memory and operating software. It might be an ASIC running firmware, but basically it's an embedded server. Ditto for the storage controller.

We saw embedded servers creeping into storage network switches, blades in Directors that would run specific storage management tasks such as virtualisation and replication. With the rise of the virtual machines we began to see storage controller software and storage virtualisation software made available in virtual machine containers. I'm thinking of LeftHand Networks' Virtual Storage Appliance as an example of this.

We saw storage array controllers start being based on an X86/Linux or other Unix platform, think NetApp's FAS arrays, and they started doing very complicated server-like jobs such as virtualisation, careful placement of blocks (Compellent and Pillar), thin provisioning, replication, and snapshotting. Start-up Pivot3 even started offering server-less computing with its video surveillance storage products.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.