By 2014, predictions indicate that cloud and virtualized servers will account for 14 percent of all IT spending, a huge amount for concepts that weren’t much 10 years ago. But as the virtualized workspace has increased in volume, a problem has emerged: storage.
The traditional storage method for physical servers was storage area network (SAN) options, and these worked perfectly well for in-house, physically attended servers. With the rise of VPS and other virtualized server options, however, SAN storage has begun to show strain. This is in large part due to the need for a logical unit number (LUN) to be assigned to each virtual server in order for it to exist and function in its new non-physical home. SAN options have rapidly become unable to scale, difficulty to manage and costly, all things that IT departments and VPS providers want to avoid.
Meanwhile, a new storage technology known as network attached storage (NAS) has begun to gain ground. This type of storage has several features that allow it to adapt easily to the changing world of virtualized servers. These include a scalability up to petabytes in size, something that is going to be necessary over the next few years as exobytes of data are created, a lower cost than SAN systems and higher performance than SANs with 10GigE and 40G Infiniband networking. Collectively, these features make NAS a far more effective choice for data storage in a virtual environment than SAN systems.
Virtualization is in many respects still in its adolescence and will take time to mature. Along with that maturity must come scalable and effective storage that can adapt to a rapidly-growing technology without requiring significant overhead or administration, and NAS appears to be a viable prospect.