Storage Performance and the Drive for Increased Virtualization

Arthur Cole

It's pretty hard to find CIOs who don't want better performance from their storage infrastructure.

Indeed, if there is one thing holding back the reins on truly explosive growth in virtual and cloud infrastructure, it's the problem of ensuring that storage systems, and I/O in particular, are up to the task.

Fortunately, the effort to improve storage is moving on multiple paths, with new storage media and new management techniques leading the charge.

The newest generations of I/O acceleration, for example, incorporate the latest Flash memory technology that can handle fast-moving data and applications across a variety of enterprise architectures. AMAX recently introduced the latest versions of its StorMax I/O Accelerator series that incorporates PCI-Express Flash modules capable of handling up to 1 million IOPS and 10 TB of raw capacity. The line also provides for dual InfiniBand or Fibre Channel connectivity, driving read/write latency down to 250 microseconds in 10 Gbps environments. You also get onboard RAID protection.

Xiotech, meanwhile, is revving up its storage capabilities through its hybrid ISE (Intelligent Storage Element) "brick" that combines 20, 2.5-inch, 900 GB hard disk drives and 20, 200 GB MLC flash drives in a 3U chassis. The system is tied to a 30 GB backplane through 6 Gbps SAS interfaces that, in a full rack configuration, can scale up to more than 900,000 IOPS. Part of the secret sauce here is the use of new Intel Jasper Forest processors that bump internal memory from 1 to 8 GB.

Improved data management can also do wonders for your storage performance. To that end, Zettapoint has released the DBClassify Policy Engine, which works with EMC's Fully Automated Storage Tiering for Virtual Pools (FAST VP) package to improve tiering performance in Oracle database environments. By evaluating data based on numerous parameters, such as location, past usage and application context, the system is said to improve I/O by 70 percent. It also recommends optimal tiering patterns to more closely match storage with EFD, FC and SATA requirements.

The end of siloed architecture in the data center means that the various IT components -- mainly servers, storage and networking -- are now part of an interrelated ecosystem where changes in one area can vastly affect the others. Servers and networking have certainly undergone a fair share of change recently. It's probably time to take a good hard look at what kind of storage you'll need now that the future is at your doorstep.

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