Remember the scene in “Forrest Gump” when he practically bemoaned his third invitation to a White House function? In that spirit, I present you with the latest industry research report that declares that Fibre Channel is the king of all technologies among end-users for their storage networking needs in their virtualized environments. As it happens, Forrester Research published this most recent report entitled “Storage Choices For Virtual Server Environments, Q1 2011,” indicating that this is a trend they plan to track on an on-going basis.
They can measure this as long as they want but it is my opinion that end-users are remarkably consistent in this area because they don’t want their virtualization storage networks to be “like a box of chocolates” in that they don’t know what they’re going to get. In Fibre Channel, end-users know they have a ultra-reliable, high-performance and tried-and-true technology that runs as well as old Forrest there.
Gartner, TheInfoPro and the Enterprise Strategy Group have all reported percentages pretty much on par with Forrester’s research. I believe a Gartner survey said about 70% of the respondents attending the 2009 version of the Gartner Data Center Conference said that Fibre Channel was the “most important” storage networking technology for their virtualized data centers, for example, compared to less than 20% who characterized FCoE or iSCSI as such. In more recent surveys, NAS in the form of NFS has gained the second-place position behind Fibre Channel, as was the case in the Forrester report.
Interestingly though, the Forrester information that really caught my eye was a question looking at how companies procured their storage and from whom. The research showed that users seemed most comfortable with buying single, fully integrated SANs from a single storage vendor, even for their virtualization needs. This is the preferred model for purchasing most enterprise SANs today and according to this research, it doesn’t appear that this model is going away anytime soon. In an environment as complex and mission-critical as SANs for tier-1 applications, it appears end-users want to maintain a trusted vendor/supplier relationship with their storage vendor of choice or perhaps want that “one throat to choke” when things go south.
That leads me to my last point on this topic in that implementing an effective storage strategy for virtualization is hard, very hard, according to those surveyed. In fact, Forrester says that among compute, network and storage, it’s storage that is the farthest behind in terms of capabilities.
“However, conversations with Forrester customers indicate that storage maturity lags core server virtualization management tools and processes…Server virtualization requires orchestration of server, storage, and network components; and gains in virtualization require all of these to be well-oiled. Storage appears to be lagging, so more attention on increasing storage capabilities and efficiency makes sense for most server virtualization environments.”
In terms of the top challenges that end users face, not surprisingly, capacity management ranks the highest. Storage administrators are expected to deploy 25 times more terabytes of storage over the next five years than they did in all of 2009 or an aggregate capacity of 180,645 petabytes or about 176 exabytes (10 with 18 zeroes). Big numbers that are probably an underestimate if virtualization and cloud adoption really take off.
Even Forrest Gump can understand and appreciate that.