A lot has been written about server consolidation over the past few years, but there are a number of equally compelling arguments in favor of storage consolidation.
Those of you who can remember compiling disparate direct-access drives into a common architecture probably know what I mean.
As this article in Processor points out, storage consolidation is your best bet for increasing storage capacity without jamming up your entire network. And it looks like consolidation technology has some legs in terms of extensibility. The SANS of yesterday are already being outclassed by Ethernet NAS and tiered storage environments.
Consolidation also offers improved hardware performance and more efficient utilization, as well as numerous options to improve data management. And of course, the costs of centralization are nothing compared to continued reliance on distributed architectures as the enterprise grows.
As in the server world, consolidation is largely being driven by virtualization. One of the newest systems on the market is the Clareti VTL 2.0 from Gresham Enterprise Storage. The system provides integrated data management coupled with consolidation for heterogeneous tape libraries. Clareti features a predictive capacity allocation feature to indicate when new disk caches should be provisioned.
Nexsan and Reldata have joined together to develop a unified storage virtualization appliance, combining the benefits of extremely dense arrays with centralized management. The system combines the Nexsan SATABeast with Reldata's 9240 IP storage gateway, with an eye toward firms looking for consolidation within a unified SAN/NAS environment.
Still, the problem remains that there are no clear benchmarks for determining the performance of storage consolidation systems on the market. The Storage Performance Council currently has a series of benchmarks (SPC1, SPC-2...) for storage performance in general, which wind up on the labels of many of the leading systems. But nothing concrete for consolidation. Perhaps the SPC could put it on the agenda.