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Why isn't all storage in a SAN?

By Charles Vallhonrat

Despite many years of strong growth in storage migrating to SANs, we still live in a world where a huge amount of storage is still directly attached to servers.  Why have we not seen all storage move external for any environment with multiple servers?  Surely the SAN offers lower cost, higher data protection, and better utilization.

The fact of the matter is a lot of data remains inside servers or directly attached via a JBOD because that is the best place for it.  Maybe there is a specific performance need, or certain local control of data and access that leads to customers keep storage directly attached. Customers are savvy and until the SAN offers a better solution for their specific need, they are keeping certain storage infrastructure close to the server.

Enter shared SAS.  It looks and smells like shared storage yet offers the simplicity of Direct Attached Storage (DAS) and has no requirement for a switch or to manage a network in smaller configurations.  HP introduced a shared SAS solution - The MSA2000sa - in August 2008 and quickly SAS became 25% of the interconnect mix for MSA.  Now with the release of a generation 2 model (or G2) there are a number of improvements that will likely boost usage still further.  The G2 products is faster than the previous generation, supports more drives, supports more snapshots, supports more LUNs, supports more servers...and on and on.  But, one of the most important new features is support for 2.5" inch (aka Small Form Factor) drives.  Yep, the same type of drives used in many ProLiant servers.  In fact, with the MSA2000sa G2, the small form factor drives are same drives that are used in our HP ProLiant servers.  Talk about keeping the simplicity of DAS...

By the way, once customers get the benefit of shared storage using SAS, the MSA architecture allows them to upgrade controllers to iSCSI or Fibre Channel if they wish.  Maybe we have finally found the catalyst to remove storage from servers.

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Anonymous | ‎06-23-2009 03:06 AM

Couldn't one throw the HP MDS600 into this category also (  It too is shared storage that is also an direct attached storage solution for an HP C3000 or C7000 BladeSystem.  It also seems to be great new product which no one seems to be talking about from the LeftHand division of HP.

leejohnsbladestorage | ‎06-23-2009 03:47 AM

Yes you are correct Craig.  The MDS 600 is a great way to consolidate DAS storage.  With the MDS 600 you are not constrained by the physical specifications of your server and can scale any server to have from 1-100 drives.  In addition with HP LeftHand Networks VSA software in front of it you can turn it into shared storage.  In fact you turn DAS into a SAN.

PublicPassport | ‎07-17-2009 10:26 PM

and now the MDS600 is qualified for OpenVMS :-)

The MDS600 looks like a good entry level that expands (disk space requirements always do).

| ‎07-24-2009 02:25 AM

Thanks for the tidbit on MDS support for OpenVMS.  I hadn't heard that yet.  Nice!

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25+ years experience around HP Storage. The go-to guy for news and views on all things storage..

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