Enterprises are demanding more flexible, open network architectures as they adjust to the 3rd Platform era to meet the demands of mobility, cloud services, big data analytics and social networking.
According to IDC, to meet these new requirements, organisations should consider dedicated networks for IP-based storage as a better approach to align their networking infrastructures with business needs.
Old assumptions about how to design a network that connects application hosts to their network attached storage arrays are subsequently changing.
The scale of IP storage, both block and file, has greatly expanded as more applications than ever before are using files for managing storage.
At the same time, Ethernet bandwidth has increased to meet the demands of server virtualisation, hosting multiple applications per physical server.
Today, many businesses have as much or more NAS storage as they have block storage connected to their applications. A growing number of applications that are using IP storage are mission-critical.
The road to IP storage networks
The introduction of an open protocol for storage input and output (I/O) channels, Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) has now become ubiquitous. However, as storage volumes grow, this architecture cannot keep up with requirements.
SCSI’s need for low deterministic latency and guaranteed delivery has contributed to the creation of two other solutions.
One is Fibre Channel Storage Area Network (FC SAN), which acts as a lossless, low latency network for SCSI traffic. Another solution is to use shared file systems such as Network File System (NFS) and Common Internet File System (CIFS).
These solutions have traditionally used a ‘best effort’ IP network with Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), to provide connectivity and ensure delivery of the data.
The evolution of dedicated block I/O channels from point-to-point busses into any-to-any networks has met the need for dramatic growth of data storage and larger bandwidth.
Why use a dedicated IP storage network?
As IP storage capacity is nearly doubling every two years and increasingly being used for more mission-critical applications, organisations should consider dedicated networks for their IP-based storage as a better approach to align their networking infrastructures with business needs.
Co-mingling storage with other network traffic results in network configuration compromises that can complicate storage management and increase corporate risk, which is why it is recommended that IP storage traffic use a dedicated physical network.
A prime example of the need to separate out IP storage traffic is that application performance can be gated by many things; but slow response to a read or write of data in storage is devastating to the network.