Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More to Storage than x86 Virtualization

If you're following Nutanix and their evangelists on Twitter lately, you've no doubt seen lots of tweets using the #NoSAN hashtag. If you're not familiar with their products, it's worth checking out. They combine four server blades in a single chassis, and sweeten the deal with internal shared storage (both SSD and HDD). If you're looking for a great platform for your vSphere cluster and don't want to invest in a SAN, Nutanix deserves your consideration.

In my opinion, however, Nutanix has gone a little overboard with their claim that SAN is dead, and that traditional SAN deployments have no future. It's easy to get caught up in the x86 virtualization space and think of storage (SAN or NAS) as just a resource to be consumed by vSphere. But data centers aren't just filled with vSphere hosts, no matter what VMware would have you believe. I see AIX hosts in a surprising number of environments. I see lots of physical Windows hosts (usually with unique hardware requirements (e.g., PCI cards for fax servers). I've even seen clustered OS X Servers on Apple hardware (NSF, I'm looking at you). All of these servers need access to fast and reliable storage, and that usually means SAN.

Look. I'm a VMware geek like the rest of you. I love running Converter on physical servers and sharing the benefits of virtualization with clients and coworkers (and random Internet people like you!). But as I noted previously, VMware is not the world. Unless you've realized the Software-Defined Data Center, your SAN is more than just a place to stick your datastores.