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Pandora’s Box Indeed

by Administrator on August 28, 2009

If you haven’t glanced at Mr. Perkowski’s piece on SAN management over on Computerworld/Networkworld/and wherever else they reprint their foo, you probably don’t need to.  It is about as helpful as all of the articles published lately about Jessica Biel searches landing you in malware soup.  

The writer advises you to shop for a management solution with needs in hand (duh), to stay away from lower cost arrays and switches (hmm), and to buy Virtual Instruments (absolutely). 

There, I just saved you the five minutes or so of my life that I wanted back after following the email link to the article.

Here are my problems with the piece. 

First, of course, is the writer’s use of the term “SAN.”  Storage Area Networks have not been delivered to market.  Ever.  Listen to Ken Krutsch VP of Engineering and Operations over at Xiotech in the interview we shot for the C-4 Summit.  What we call a SAN today ain’t.  And everyone in the industry knows it.  And more and more knowledgeable consumers are telling Ken that they feel like they have been lied to for the past decade — by vendors, by analysts, and by SNIA.  Fibre Channel creates a fabric, not a network.

Second, the plan for managing storage should be the first thing you make — even before buying the storage itself.  You need to select the management approach you will be using then tell your vendors to frack off if their hardware cannot be managed using your selected approach. 

When was the last time storage smart guys made management to a standard embraced by the company a key criterion in product selection.  In the preponderance of companies, the answer is never.  You don’t go shopping for management wares after you have deployed the spindles and slung the orange.  That’s just stupid.

Third, I find it very difficult to agree with the writer’s view about low cost hardware being the bane of management.  In my experience, the low cost rig vendors have gone out of their way to make sure that their stuff can be managed commonly.  It’s the big guys, EMC, et al., who have labored deliberately to obfuscate common management in order to make it difficult for consumers to buy competitor gear.  In Hopkinton’s case, their own former CEO so stated in 2001 — which helps to explain why ECC sucks so badly that operators continue to run their own multipage spreadsheets to manage their gear.

Also, I would suggest to the writer to have a chat with Xsigo Systems and/or to watch the video interview that we did with Jon Toor on the C-4 Summit site to get a different perspective about how much the HBA/”Director Class” switch approach contributes to costs — and how little it contributes to I/O management efficiency:  a further reflection of the oversell and price gouging inherent in FC Fabric “SANs”.

As I said at the outset, however, the writer did advance one good point in this piece:  his comments about Virtual Instruments.  To be honest, I wouldn’t begin to deploy anything calling itself a SAN today without VI.

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