Trade Me’s experiments with solid state memory, or RAM SAN technology, to improve online input and output (I/O) performance were quietly noted at StorageWorks 2007.
Hewlett-Packard chief technologist Ash Ashutosh dubbed the development “New DAS”, or a new form of application-specific directly-attached storage that could develop into new wave of storage technology disruption as Web 2.0 systems proliferate and find their way into the enterprise.
Trade Me is shipping a RAM SAN storage unit from Texas Memory Systems to New Zealand for trials. The company is looking for a storage solution to a fairly unique problem, serving thousands of pictures of items for sale on the site. Right now the site uses traditional disk storage for the task but is encountering I/O bottlenecks.
Ashutosh says many new online companies rely on a single application and DAS, or “new DAS” optimised for a single application, can provide a solution as long as the business remains simple. This “new DAS” could emerge as a whole new storage category, he suggests.
Web companies can have specific requirements at odds with current storage technologies, he says. Where traditional storage is deep, some companies, like Trade Me, require breadth to serve large volumes of data with a very short life.
However, the advantages of shared storage and scalability could be lost as businesses become more complex and as applications proliferate. Ashutosh foresees new kinds of hybrid environments emerging that combine traditional DAS, new DAS, NAS, SAN and other storage architectures.
He says the desired state would be one where applications are “infrastructure-aware” and storage modes can be mixed along with assured quality-of-service management. He says infrastructure management automation could be an extension of the operating system in these service-oriented businesses.
Other developments could coincide with this disruption such as the use of mix-and-match commoditised components, delivery of software as a service or as a utility and the convergence of the server, network and storage stacks.
Ashutosh, who leads HP’s development of next-generation datacentre technologies, says developments such as “lights out” datacentres (he prefers the term “lights dim”), where the datacentre is largely unattended and remotely managed, will move IT more towards this utility model with the ability to pool and create a service across a wire.
— O’Neill attended StorageWorks as a guest of HP