Server vendors, prepare for an attack. Lightning strikes are coming - and they're welding app and storage boxes together in a way that reminds El Reg of the mainframe era. EMC's array-controlled server flash initiative, Project Lightning, is getting ready. There may be announcement before Christmas, but it won't be a happy …
Yep, bound to happen..
The solution really is awesome, but they will skim the market with a high price making it only suitable for those with deep pockets and lots of data to access quickly. There is no free lunch and "native" applications for this are a long way off, so the OS vendors have a little time for counter measures. But it really does make sense to put the app as close to the data as possible. I mean, why waste cycles on bloated OS's if you don't have to. Oh, that't right, the cycles are cheap and disposable. What? They're not?
I though SAN's were a dieing tech?
Certainly within the database space (Microsoft SQL Server) I'm seeing more and more businesses using PCI based Nand cards like FusionIO and OCZ VeloDrive; cost per IO is substantially smaller than the SAN delivered equivalent (IO's per second at a latency realistic for database use i.e. <= 3ms per IO).
Sounds like the storage vendors are fighting back and simply turning their smart "storage" arrays into "a server with dasd" :)
Where VMWare workloads are concerned, if you don't have shared storage, you lose the ability to do about 1/2 of what makes VMWare interesting. There are more companies in the SAN and NAS sectors then ever, players like Nexenta, Open-e, Wasabi Systems. Even the guys over at Texas Memory System, who do make some of the NAND cards, have their high end units be SAN-devices. Then we round it out with the F/LOSS projects providing block-storage over various interconnects (COMSTAR, linux-iscsi, iSCSI Enterprise Target).
Commoditized, yes, dieing, I think not.
(full disclosure: I use OpenIndiana/COMSTAR/FC as the storage-backend for VMWare. Works nicely.)
Far from dying.
I'm certainly seeing more of the PCI based cards as well, but as most customers who take this approach are discovering, they're not shared and as a result, constrained to the host/s the card is installed in and of course the lack of or limited protection offered by these cards.
Where as, from a SAN perspecitve, there may be an inherit higher latency than PCIe Cards accessed directly as SAN based has to account for the latency introduced by having to go from Bus>HBA>Fibre>Switch>Fibre>Array>disks and then back again, but the SAN based solution offers protection against a single point of failure. These Cards (FusioIO/VeloDrive etc.) do not.
And as an added benifit, they share the available capacity and performance, where as the cards do not. For example. the smallest FusionIO Drive is 160GB, but if you only need 40GB, then you waste 120GB, where as in a SAN environment, if you have the same, you could re-use that 120GB else where on another application that could do with it.
And, again, get the protection of not having a single point of failure.
What Project Lighning is doing is introducing a hybrid of the best of both worlds:
-Caching frequently used data closer to the application using it; via the PCIe bus with a lower latency and;
-Providing all of the goodness and protection that a SAN array provides. (ie. No single point of failure)
An easy mistake/misspeak to intentionally make in the Vested Virtual InterNetional Security Interest
There's nothing at all phreaky or phishy about this notification and correction of ... "Because, in some secret sauce fashion, the array knows what data the application is going to need and pre-loads the flash using FAST-VP. Data that's written goes into flash and the app can carry on working while a background process copies it to disk back in the array. To be more certain it's safe to do this, Lightning flash cards can be dual'ed and mirrored." ..... which reflects the actuality of the virtual reality of the present, with the more certain development in applied computer programming fields, which reveals that saucy new secret source is the special ingredient which has storage arrays and memory dumps scrambling into action. And it may not actually be that new saucy source is secret, but rather more that it is not known to very many to be some fabulously powerful, for it is so incredibly sensitive and overpowering.
And that is as much as I would wish to presently convey, as the matter is as much to be treated in conditions of extreme confidence as it is to be enjoyed in great abandon in its incredible sensitivity.
And because it worth an obscene amount of filthy lucre, too, of course. Let's not forget that little gem
Entropy - in time all things tend converge
EMC might be ahead in the convergence in one area, but there are many areas of IT out there.
How many buyers of servers also have an EMC array installed? I'd be surpised if it was more than 5%. So EMC may corner the market in one sector, but the server makers will bring similar offerings in time to the SME and even large enterprises that don't have EMC arrays.
And there will be many other "convergancies" for them to leverage as well
Doesn't really matter what percentage has EMC installed....
(which is a lot more than anybody else really)
What really counts here is that with the offering of a converged storage and compute is the ability to have a consolidated envrionment, opening many more potential customers up to EMC. (Or any other vendor who takes the same approach.)
- If EMC were to take the converged storage/server capabilites into the VNXe line, customers would be given the opportunity to utilise Virtuallised servers within Virtualised storage, all pre-qualified with all or most of the bit's they would ever need in a low cost package.
That would cover the SMB market very well as the VNXe has a very low cost of establishment.
- Put it in the VNX line and you'd have the SMB<Midmarket and upper mid market squared away.
- With the VMAX lineup, covering the upper MidMarket (VMAXe) to big end of town with the VMAX.
Which ever market segment customers chose, having all of the bases cover, increases foot print, and this can only be good for EMC and thier customers.
The biggest advantage to the customers, if of course having it built as a pre-qualified, pre-tested, high-grade storage and servers doing exactly what they need and because it's all pre-qualified and tested, customers wouldn't have to worry about what will and won't work.
As for Project Lighting, I'd suggest it's more of an extension of FastCache rather than FastVP, which would make sense as it would behave as a local cache rather than a component of a tier, similiar to PAM-II/Flash Cache but at the host side.
I have a shed full of punch card readers and 132 column printers if anyone needs them.
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