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Spinning rust and tape are DEAD. The future's flash, cache and cloud

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Blocks and Files FCC. That’s the way storage could be going in data centres in the next few years. FCC; flash, cache and the cloud.

Amazon’s physical cloud storage gateway development – well, the supposed development – caused little ripples, echoes in my mind, and the many confusing pieces in the constantly developing storage technology jigsaw formed into a new picture. There were three parts to this new picture; see what you think of it.

Servers or server complexes have directly-attached flash or closely-connected flash arrays, or virtual flash SANs/filers with their server-specific flash stores aggregated and virtualised.

The flash is the tier for primary data; the stuff christened tier 0. Data that needs to be written out to a slower response store goes across a local network link to a cloud storage gateway and that holds the tier 1 nearline data in its cache.

It’s ready for fast promotion to the server flash stores if needed. Otherwise it just sits there, ageing, maturing, and when it’s aged enough, it gets pumped up to the cloud where it becomes tier 2 reference data and, eventually, matures into tier 3 archive data. The cloud provides data protection, data distribution and archiving, with the cloud storage gateway becoming a data centre storage hub.

The gateway is the descendant of today’s networked storage arrays and provides block and file access to data in the cloud. That could be stored as blocks, files or objects. These arrays get hollowed out, their hot data going to server flash, the nearline data staying while the older data goes off to the cloud, leaving only a storage hub controller and limited nearline data capacity.

The cloud provides the scalability needed and, with copy management software like Actifio’s the storage efficiency needed. The gateway dedupes and compresses all traffic going to the cloud, and strongly encrypts it as well, keeping the NSA busybodies at bay.

We could imagine such a transition taking five or ten years to play out.

This nice and tidy 3-layer storage picture will apply where private data centres retain their server operations. If they go to the cloud as well then you kiss local data centre storage goodbye.

This idea of a 3-layer storage cake seems quite a compelling outline picture. It’s tidy, at any rate. Is it sensible? You tell me in the comments below. ®

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