back to article Array with it: What's next for enterprise storage?

So I was sitting in my hotel room on day 2 of HPE Discover* thinking about some of the discussions that happened on the previous days/evenings. It seems that even vendors are now coming round to the idea that enterprise storage is pretty much dead – at least in its current form. What do we mean by dead? Well, we don’t mean …

  1. Jo_seph_B

    Software Defined

    I've just been doing a quick lab of Atlantis.

    Managed to triple the speed of a Nimble CS215 array with it. Very impressive. Also does some smart Hyper Converged setup, where it simply used the existing spinning and SSD disks in the servers. Again accelerated by unused system memory. Results were again impressive. Giving 5 times the speed of the individual raid setups in the hosts.

    Its got a few limitations at the moment, like the requirement for 4 hosts and the pricing models aren't great for the appliances. I can see some serious potential though and I think they are changing their models early next year.

    Software defined, to me, seems to have some legs.

  2. Steve Chalmers

    This is about silo walls, not substance

    What's really changing is that -- over the next decade or two, not the next year or two -- the boundary between "server" and "storage" which we hardened when we drove Fibre Channel into the industry two decades ago will soften again.

    In a lot of cases, the storage is being absorbed back into servers. Sometimes all the servers. Sometimes just specialized ones.

    As you walked around HPE Discover, you probably saw flash storage sitting on what we used to call memory DIMMs sitting in servers. That's a lot faster to read and write than storage in an NVMe or NVMe over Fabric device, which in turn is a lot faster than traditional storage. When application performance is proportional to (1 / storage latency), this kind of "faster" is extraordinarily important.

    You probably also walked past the HPE Labs display, and learned about "The Machine". In "The Machine", a number of "servers" share a pool of nonvolatile memory -- that's the hardware for the enterprise storage for those servers.

    Enterprise storage isn't really about hardware. It's about software. It's about mapping the addresses seen by the servers onto the disk drives, which is really about making disk failures, RAID, rebuilds, migrations, and the like transparent to the servers. It's about snapshots and backup, cloning and migration, thin provisioning, deduplication, and all the other features of a modern Enterprise array. These features, this (possibly hardware assisted) software, doesn't go away in a world where the storage hardware has been reabsorbed into the servers. It's just called something different, such as "software defined storage".

    Observation: it takes a decade for a new storage protocol/interconnect to reach critical mass in the market -- very few proposed technologies have this level of success. Once established in that mass of customer sites, a technology like Fibre Channel has momentum that takes decades to fade away, even if a replacement technology has already reached its own critical mass.

    I'm reminded of the old tradition: "The king is dead. Long live the king.".

    Or in this case, "Enterprise Storage (as we've known it for the last two decades) is dead. Long live Enterprise Storage (more tightly integrated with server hardware for the next two decades)." Only customers will still be buying today's Enterprise Storage for decades to come.


    (works for HPE, haven't worked in storage in this decade, speaking for self)

  3. Bernard

    Typically what happens next is that one or several historically wholesale array builders will step out from behind the scenes and corner the market by doing commodity work more cheaply than the established players.

    They're probably from China and they've probably been building white label gear in increasing volume for years.

    When the value of innovation diminishes in a mature market western firms lose their hold on the market very rapidly.

  4. kbuggenhout

    nice comment on HPE with a picture of DELL blades

    funny to see DELL blade chassis with equalogic storage units pictured above a HPE article..


  5. HPStorageGuy

    A peak at the next thing in storage at HPE

    (Disclosure: Calvin Zito from HPE Storage here)

    Hey Bod - was a pleasure to finally host you at one of our events. I hope you found it useful and worth your time.

    I wish I would have seen your blog post before we left Discover. There were a couple of places where you could have seen a bit more about what comes next for storage at HPE. Steve Chalmers (who I worked with for years when he was in storage) hit on some of the same things I'll mention but I wanted to give you links to find more context.

    There was also an NDA room but if you went there, you can't write about what you saw! Here's a short run-down on what's next:

    - The short-term next is Composable Infrastructure. Our goal is to simplify things, to make the storage infrastructure invisible. Another way to describe is infrastructure as code. I have a post I did last week that is an introduction to Composable Infrastructure and storage ----> There was also a session that went a bit deeper and if you have 25 minutes is worth watching. ----->

    - The other next thing is a bit further out. I'm not sure if you've heard about The Machine - a huge research project inside Hewlett Packard Labs. If you aren't familiar with it, I have a video that is a brief introduction to the Machine. -----> The other more relevant video I have is a discussion I had with one of our System Researchers talking about Photonics and Universal Memory. ------>

    If you want to dive deeper on any of this, feel free to reach out to me.

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