Overcoming the challenges of Server Side Network Storage

Server side network storage (SSNS) is attracting the attention of many data center planners. It aggregates internal server storage and presents that storage as a sharable virtual volume. Virtual machines access this shared volume no matter what host they are running on. The promise of SSNS is that it should lower the cost and complexity of providing shared storage to a clustered environment. The prime use case has been clustered virtual environments like VMware or Hyper-V. But SSNS are not without their challenges.

Overcoming those challenges is key to their broad adoption and was the subject of a recent ChalkTalk Video I did with Gridstore’s CTO and founder Kelly Murphy.

The Challenges To Server Side Network Storage

Wasted resources and inflexible scaling are the key challenges to server side storage networking. Most SSNS use replication as a means to protect data from drive failure. This means that they create two or three copies of a virtual machine on other nodes in the cluster. If a drive in a node fails, the VM can pull its data from one of the other nodes in the cluster. But it also means that the SSNS software uses more capacity than a standard array that uses RAID 5 or 6. Replication also causes two extra writes across the network wasting bandwidth.

Converging compute, storage, and networking may save money, however it also leads to scaling problems. A virtual infrastructure seldom scales all three of these resources at the same time. But many converged infrastructures scale by adding server, storage, and networking all at once which limits flexibility and can lead to poor resource utilization.

The Shared Storage Advantage

Shared storage does not have these limitations. Data protection is integrated and managed by dedicated controllers. Dedicated controllers also allow for more sophisticated techniques like RAID or erasure coding. Shared storage separates storage, compute, capacity, and networking from server compute and networking. Of course, shared storage requires those dedicated components and sometimes those are expensive.

Best of Both Worlds The Server Side Network Solution

As we discuss in the video, the solution to the server side network storage problem may be to combine converged and dedicated storage. Gridstore recently announced a converged system that works with their existing grid architecture. This brings back the flexibility that may be missing from other converged systems. When a customer needs compute and storage they can buy the converged system. If they just need capacity they can add storage nodes. Essentially the best of both worlds.

Sponsored by Gridstore

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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