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    2013 in Review and the Outlook for 2014 – A SNIA ESF Perspective

    January 28th, 2014

    Technology continues to advance rapidly. Making sense of it all can be a challenge. At the SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum, we focus on storage technologies and solutions enabled by and associated with Ethernet Networks. Last year, we modified the charters of our two Special Interest Groups (SIG) to address topics about file protocols and storage over Ethernet. The File Protocols SIG includes the prior focus on Network File System (NFS) related topics and adds discussions around Server Message Block (SMB / CIFS). We had our first webcast last November on the topic of SMB 3.0 and it was our best attended webcast ever. The Storage over Ethernet SIG focuses on general Ethernet storage topics as well as more information about technologies like FCoE, iSCSI, Data Center Bridging, and virtual networking for storage. I encourage you to check out other articles on these hot topics in this SNIAESF blog to hear from our member experts as well as guest posts from leading analysts.

    2013 was a busy year and we are already kickin’ it in 2014. This should be an exciting year in IT. Data storage continues to be a hot sector especially in the areas of All-Flash and Hybrid arrays. This year, we will expect to see new standards coming out of the T11 committee for Fibre Channel and possibly FCoE as well as progress in high speed Ethernet networks. Lower cost network interconnects will facilitate adoption of high speed networks in the small to midsize business segment. And a new conversation around “Software Defined…” should push a lot of ink in trade rags and other news sources. Oh, and don’t forget about the “Internet of Things”, mobile solutions, and all things Cloud.

    The ESF will be addressing the impact on Ethernet storage solutions from these hot technologies. Next month, on February 18th, experts from the ESF, along with industry analysts from Dell’Oro Group will speak to the benefits and best practices of deploying FCoE and iSCSI storage protocols. This presentation “Use Cases for iSCSI and Fibre Channel: Where Each Makes Sense” will be part of an upcoming BrightTalk Summit on Storage Networking. I encourage you to register for this session. Additionally, we will be publishing a couple of white papers on file-based storage and a review of FCoE and iSCSI in storage applications.

    Finally, SNIA will be kicking off its first year of the new user conference, Data Storage Innovation Conference. This will be one of the few storage focused user conferences in the market and should be quite interesting.

    We’re excited about our growing membership and our plans for 2014. Our goal is to advance application of innovative technologies and we encourage you to send us mail or comment below with topics that are of interest to you.

    Here’s to an exciting 2014!


    Object Storage is a Big Deal (and Ethernet Matters)

    January 14th, 2013

    A significant challenge in managing large amounts of data (or Big Data) is a lack of what I like to call “total data awareness”. It’s a situation where you know (or suspect) that you have data – you just can’t find it. When you think about many current IT environments, they are often not built for total data awareness. This starts with core elements of the IT infrastructure, such as file systems. Traditional file systems and access methods were not designed to store hundreds of millions or billions of files in a single namespace. This leads to admins storing data in multiple file systems, multiple shares, complex directory structures – not because the data should be logically organized in that way, but simply because of limitations in file system architectures. This issue becomes even more pressing when data sits in multiple locations, maybe even across on-premise and off-premise, cloud-based storage.

    Is object-based storage the answer?

    Think about how you find data on your computer. Do you navigate complex directory structures, trying to remember the file name of the file that hopefully has the data you are looking for – or have you moved on and just use search tools like Spotlight? Imagine you have hundreds of millions of files, scattered across dozens or hundreds of sites. How about just searching across these sites and immediately finding the data you are looking for? With object storage technology you have the ability to store data in objects, along with metadata that describes the object. Now you can just search for your data based on metadata tags (like a filename – or even better an account number and document type) – as well as manage data based on policies that leverage that metadata.

    However, this often means that you have to consider interfacing with your storage system through APIs, as opposed to NFS and CIFS – so your applications need to support whatever API your storage vendor offers.

    CDMI to the rescue?

    Today, storage vendors often use proprietary APIs. This means that application vendors would have to support a plethora of APIs from a number of different vendors, leading to a lack of commitment from application vendors to support more innovative, object-based storage architectures.

    A key path to solve this issue is to leverage technology and standards that have been specifically developed to provide this idea of a single namespace for billions of data sets and across locations and even managed services that might reside off-premise.

    Relatively new on the standards side you have CDMI (http://www.snia.org/cdmi), the Cloud Data Management Interface. CDMI is a standard developed by SNIA (http://www.snia.org), the Storage Networking Industry Association, with heavy involvement from a number of leading storage vendors. CDMI not only introduces a standard interface to ingest and retrieve data into and out of a large-scale repository, it also enables applications to easily manage this repository and where the data sits.

    CDMI is the new NFS

    Forgive the provocation, but when it comes to creating and managing large, distributed content repositories it quickly becomes clear that NFS and CIFS are not ideally suited for this use case. This is where CDMI shines, especially with an object-based storage architecture behind it that was built to support multi-petabyte environments with billions of data sets across hundreds of sites and accommodates retention policies that can reach to “forever”.

    CDMI and NFS have something in common – Ethernet

    One of the key commonalities between CDMI and NFS is that they both are ideally suited to be deployed in an Ethernet infrastructure. CDMI, specifically, is a RESTful HTTP interface, so it runs on standard Ethernet networks. Even for object storage deployments that don’t support CDMI, practically all of these multi-site, long-term repositories support HTTP (and thus Ethernet) through proprietary APIs based on REST or SOAP.

    Why does this matter

    Ethernet infrastructure is a great foundation to run any number of workloads, including access to data that sits in large, multi-site content repositories that are based on object storage technologies. So if you are looking at object storage, chances are that you will be able to leverage existing Ethernet infrastructure.


    Ethernet Storage Forum – 2012 Year in Review and What to Expect in 2013

    December 20th, 2012

    As we come to a close of the year 2012, I want to share some of our successes and briefly highlight some new changes for 2013. Calendar year 2012 has been eventful and the SNIA-ESF has been busy. Here are some of our accomplishments:

    • 10GbE – With virtualization and network convergence, as well as the general availability of LOM and 10GBASE-T cabling, we saw this is a “breakout year” for 10GbE. In July, we published a comprehensive white paper titled “10GbE Comes of Age.” We then followed up with a Webcast “10GbE – Key Trends, Predictions and Drivers.” We ran this live once in the U.S. and once in the U.K. and combined, the Webcast has been viewed by over 400 people!
    • NFS – has also been a hot topic. In June we published a white paper “An Overview of NFSv4” highlighting the many improved features NFSv4 has over NFSv3. A Webcast to help users upgrade, “NFSv4 – Plan for a Smooth Migration,” has also been well received with over 150 viewers to date.  A 4-part Webcast series on NFS is now planned. We kicked the series off last month with “Reasons to Start Working with NFSv4 Now” and will continue on this topic during the early part of 2013. Our next NFS Webcast will be “Advances in NFS – NFSv4.1 and pNFS.” You can register for that here.
    • Flash – The availability of solid state devices based on NAND flash is changing the performance efficiencies of storage. Our September Webcast “Flash – Plan for the Disruption” discusses how Flash is driving the need for 10GbE and has already been viewed by more than 150 people.

    We have also added to expand membership and welcome new membership from Tonian and LSI to the ESF. We expect with this new charter to see an increase in membership participation as we drive incremental value and establish ourselves as a leadership voice for Ethernet Storage.

    As we move into 2013, we expect two hot trends to continue – the broader use of file protocols in datacenter applications, and the continued push toward datacenter consolidation with the use of Ethernet as a storage network. In order to better address these two trends, we have modified our charter for 2013. Our NFS SIG will be renamed the File Protocol SIG and will focus on promoting not only NFS, but also SMB / CIFS solutions and protocols. The iSCSI SIG will be renamed to the Storage over Ethernet SIG and will focus on promoting data center convergence topics with Ethernet networks, including the use of block and file protocols, such as NFS, SMB, FCoE, and iSCSI, over the same wire. This modified charter will allow us to have a richer conversation around storage trends relevant to your IT environment.

    So, here is to a successful 2012, and excitement for the coming year.


    pNFS Advances

    December 12th, 2012

    Building an industry standard is a series of incremental steps – from the original concept through ratification, followed by education and promotion, and ultimately to the development of an ecosystem of solutions. For a number of years the SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF) has been successfully advocating and promoting the NFSv4.1 standard and pNFS extensions.

    Today, we welcome the open-pnfs.org community in its goal of extending the work of the SNIA ESF in promoting pNFS and NFSv4.1. Open-pNFS adds to the progression from standard to solution, by focusing and highlighting the commercial products coming to market and the maturation of the ecosystem.


    NFSv4.1 Webcast-Tuesday, August 28th

    August 24th, 2012

    NFSv4.1 is a mature and stable protocol with many advantages over NFSv3 in meeting the demands being placed on storage by exploding data growth. Now is the time to plan for a smooth migration. I encourage you to register for our live Webcast  on August 28th at http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/663/52927.

    My colleague, Alex McDonald, and I will review what makes NFSv4.1 ideally suited to a wide range of data center and HPC uses. We’ll discuss how careful planning can result in a migration that does not require modification to applications, and that utilizes existing operational infrastructure in its deployment. You’ll see why you should be evaluating and using NFSv4.1 in 2012. And because it’s live, Alex and I will answer your questions on the spot. We hope to see you there. Here are the details:

    Date: Thursday, August 28, 2012
    Time: 8:00 am PT / 11:00 am ET / 3:00 pm GMT / 5:00 pm CET
    Register: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/663/52927
    We hope to see you there.


    Live Webcast: 10GbE – Key Trends, Drivers and Predictions

    July 12th, 2012

    The SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF) will be presenting a live Webcast on 10GbE on Thursday, July 19th.  Together with my SNIA colleagues, David Fair and Gary Gumanow, we’ll be discussing the technical and economic justifications that will likely make 2012 the “breakout year” for 10GbE.  We’ll cover the disruptive technologies moving this protocol forward and highlight the real-world benefits early adopters are seeing. I hope you will join us!

    The Webacast will begin at 8:00 a.m. PT/11:00 a.m. ET. Register Now: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/663/50385

    This event is live, so please come armed with your questions. We’ll answer as many as we can on the spot and include the full Q&A here in a SNIA ESF blog post.

    We look forward to seeing you on the 19th!


    Live Webcast: 10GbE – Key Trends, Drivers and Predictions

    July 12th, 2012

    The SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF) will be presenting a live Webcast on 10GbE on Thursday, July 19th.  Together with my SNIA colleagues, David Fair and Gary Gumanow, we’ll be discussing the technical and economic justifications that will likely make 2012 the “breakout year” for 10GbE.  We’ll cover the disruptive technologies moving this protocol forward and highlight the real-world benefits early adopters are seeing. I hope you will join us!

    The Webacast will begin at 8:00 a.m. PT/11:00 a.m. ET. Register Now: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/663/50385

    This event is live, so please come armed with your questions. We’ll answer as many as we can on the spot and include the full Q&A here in a SNIA ESF blog post.

    We look forward to seeing you on the 19th!