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January 06, 2010


Paul P

Hi Chuck,

You commented: "I'm using to explain these changes is virtual storage: the complete abstraction of logical from physical. Just like we've seen virtual servers change our thinking around computing; the belief is that virtual storage will change the way we think about spinning disks."

My Question: Can I assume that this ‘virtualisation’ you are discussing only refers to storage solutions that offer iSCSI and NAS services only? What about FC?

Now I understand your position that iSCSI and NAS is less important than FC, and that it is inappropriate (and irresponsible) to lose the underlying geometry and device characteristics within arrays that provide the FC interface. Let me paraphrase how I understand your position "You can emulate iSCSI and NAS, because they do not need the same performance that (persons/customers?, servers?) would expect from FC arrays" (http://chucksblog.emc.com/chucks_blog/2008/12/dell-emc-and-the-new-nx4.html). Does not virtualising an array (with ‘complete’ separation of the physical and logical) do just that? Or are you suggesting that unlike VMware, EMC have been able to create a virtualisation layer that extracts zero resources (i.e. performance) from the underlying platform.

Chuck Hollis

Hi Paul P

Great questions.

Creating a virtual storage environment (ideally) would support multiple access models (block, file, object) and multiple media types (ethernet, FC) if needed. Although one could argue -- in the fullness of time -- it all becomes ethernet, including FCoE.

The "performance penalty" I used to talk about is disappearing on many fronts: use of enterprise flash, 10gE, multipathing, etc. It's becoming less and less of an issue.

The big performance booster -- in my mind -- is enterprise flash. So much of what we know about disk performance has to be rewritten with this technology. And, as we learn to blend it in with other forms of media (e.g. FAST) the economics are compelling as well.

I don't think there will be any such thing as a "zero impact abstraction" -- that's true for operating systems, protocols, APIs, filesystems, etc. There's always a cost for adding a layer of abstraction.

That being said, we're usually OK with that tradeoff. Very little coding gets done in machine language these days, as an example.

Thanks for writing!

-- Chuck

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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