Don’t Bother Trying Large-Scale Storage Without Fibre Channel SAN Technology

I’m not going to hide my true feelings any longer. I hate Fibre Channel SANs.

Yes, I know, I haven’t exactly hidden my position on that topic, considering all the SAN related postings I’ve made. Look, Fibre Channel SAN was great technology for connecting large numbers of disks to a single, large SMP. I just don’t think the technology has a rightful place in Grid computing. I know, broken record.

I’m glad to see that one year after HP bought my former company (PolyServe), the technology is starting to show up in interesting packaging as this piece in Enterprise Storage Forum points out. That’s right, HP is using PolyServe for extremely large scale clustered NAS-a good fit. But that is not why I’m blogging the point.

A few things about the HP StorageWorks 9100 Extreme Data Storage System stand out to me. First, HP has pumped PolyServe’s stomach. I’ve sifted through the, er, um, egestion and found a Fibre Channel SAN suspended in the colloid. Ah, what a relief. That’s right, the StorageWorks 9100 is not a Fibre Channel SAN gateway. It’s all SAS.

The other thing that I see percolating to the top of HP’s messaging on this solution is the fact that if you so desire you can execute applications in the NAS heads. So if you want to have local-disk access speed for data you’ve ingested via NFS, you can do that. Consider, for instance, the ability to log into a NAS head and perform compression without any network overhead. But then, that’s nothing new since this particular product has always supported that sort of mix.

I also read somewhere that folks are critical of HP’s goal to bother offering such extreme capacity. Some folks (rightfully) argue that Petabyte storage “needs” are usually a sign of postponing the difficult work of determining what to archive and when. ILM is tough business to get right, I know. However, the main application of this particular HP offering is for Web 2.0, and face it, when someone wants to view a photo they don’t want to see a browser hour glass while the application goes off to near-line storage for a photo that hasn’t been viewed in the last 90 days.

Finally, I see in the materials that they tout 200MB/s NAS bandwidth per NAS head. I think they are low-balling for safety sake. This system consists of 3.5″ SAS drives and 12 of them offer substantially more than 200MB/s. Trust me. More like 900-1000 MB/s actually. But then, that depends on the workload. I suppose randomly plucking out photo/video content mixed with writes at the rate of 200MB/s per NAS head sounds pretty good.

What does this have to do with Oracle?

Well, I’m an Oracle-minded guy who hates Fibre Channel SANs and Oracle on NFS is fully supported. And, oh yeah, I do like SAS. Finally, I’m former PolyServe and it is my blog, so, I blogged it 🙂

1 Response to “Don’t Bother Trying Large-Scale Storage Without Fibre Channel SAN Technology”

  1. 1 Robert Klemme June 16, 2008 at 7:57 am

    It always felt clunky to me to (ab)use network hardware and protocol to attach disk storage – so I do appreciate your ammunition. 🙂



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I work for Amazon Web Services. The opinions I share in this blog are my own. I'm *not* communicating as a spokesperson for Amazon. In other words, I work at Amazon, but this is my own opinion.

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All content is © Kevin Closson and "Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage", 2006-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Closson and Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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