What is Unified Storage Anyway?
Today is seems like every vendor on the planet has a “unified” storage system. But what is “unified storage”?
Hardly a day goes by without one vendor or another “redefining unified storage” so it is pretty hard to tell. Any vendor with separate SAN and a NAS platforms and a management interface calls themselves unified. Some iSCSI only storage vendors are even calling themselves “unified”.
In 2010 John Webster wrote a piece entitled “Is it unified or un-unified storage” for CNET which still rings true today. So what is the definition? According to SearchStorage “Unified storage”, is defined in the following way:-
“Unified storage (sometimes termed network unified storage or NUS) is a storage system that makes it possible to run and manage files and applications from a single device. To this end, a unified storage system consolidates file-based and block-based access in a single storage platform and supports fibre channel SAN, IP-based SAN (iSCSI), and NAS (network attached storage).”
If you believe in this definition then some of the claims from newly emerging unified storage vendors will ring hollow for you as they clearly do not meet this specification. True unified storage is not about seperate NAS and SAN boxes linked together to form FrankenStorage. It is about a single device capable of consolidating NAS and SAN workloads.
Does it really matter though? Does anyone care what “unified Storage” means? The answer to that is clearly, "No". However what is being lost sight of is the requirement driving the need for the original unified storage definition.
Customers have mixed workloads. Soon 80% of their workloads will be virtualized, 80% of their data will be unstructured and they will still have substantial amounts of structured data in databases that contain the information that drives their business. With this backdrop what is becoming too costly for many businesses is managing multiple systems and the inefficiencies that go along with that. Businesses are looking for consolidation and efficiency. They don’t care what the data type is they just want to have it consolidated on a platform that can optimize for each workload type. Today using the technologies available to us it is possible to create a modern architecture that delivers on that and saves customers both OPEX and CAPEX.
As the first unified hybrid storage vendor it is good for Starboard Storage Systems but sad for customers that some vendors are more interested in redefining the term “Unified Storage” than they are in delivering storage consolidation for their customers with built in solid state acceleration for all workloads.
If you are a customer or a channel partner looking for innovation that will reduce your storage footprint, improve performance lower total cost of ownership and deliver SAN and NAS in a single device (with no FrankenStorage) you might want to take a look at Starboard Storage.
SearchStorage Definition of Unified Storage http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/definition/unified-storage
John Webster Article “Is it unified or Un-unified storage?” http://news.cnet.com/8301-21546_3-20019235-10253464.html