A good warning on Storage virtualization

Are storage subsystems getting too smart for their own good? Here is a great article from Brian Betts about Jon Toigo's warning to the storage world speaking at Storage Networking World. Here are some points that are dead on.

Are storage subsystems getting too smart for their own good?  Here is a great article from Brian Betts about Jon Toigo's warning to the storage world speaking at Storage Networking World.  Here are some points that are dead on.

Jon Toigo: "You need visibility into the array and understanding of its performance characteristics"

I couldn't agree with this more.  How and where you place your data on a storage array is critical to its performance characteristics.  Just shoving it in to the black box is the worst thing one can do for a storage strategy.

Betts: "He (Toigo) also gave storage consolidation a good kicking, pointing out that there's a big problem with something which claims to simplify matters and save money, but then requires you to add another layer of technology - WAFS - to bring access speeds back to where they had been before you consolidated"

This is another great point.  I've seen this time and time again where so many layers of technology is thrown at a engineering problem that the only person that's happy is the one selling all the hardware, software, and support.

Jon Toigo: "In nature, it's diversity not consolidation that ensures a species' survival," he added. "Consolidation also violates the 80/20 rule of networks - that 80 per cent of traffic stays on the LAN and doesn't need to go over the WAN - and invites choke-points."

I'm so glad someone raised this point.  Consolidation where it makes sense is a good thing, but consolidation at any cost is not a good thing especially when it jacks up monthly bandwidth costs.  If there are a lot of users at a branch office, try to keep the data local to them as much as possible.  When it's not possible because it's a centralized system like ERP or CRM, try to use as much caching technology as possible.  Web caching technology is very inexpensive but they only work for HTTP.  There are transparent caching appliances that can alleviate a lot of the bandwidth issues and can work with any application but they are not cheap.  The ones that I have seen cost $10,000 or more for a small site.

To finish the article, we're left with a tip on deletion policies that need to account for extra copies in a storage subsystem.

Betts: "And he (Toigo) said companies need to get working on strategies and technology for coherent deletion, so that once the retention period for data is over, every copy of it is deleted. That's both to satisfy data protection laws and remove potential sources of embarrassment should enemies use court orders to go fishing in your filing."