Many IT support organizations comment on their applications, saying, 'We have bigger data, more sources, and need a single distribution strategy.' In the eyes of IT, this translates as:
Bigger data The data stored online and transferred between storage and server has increased in size , and the amount of data transmitted between server and client PC is much larger, driven by structured data (text and numeric data) combined with unstructured data (images, audio, and video).
More sources The application must work on several sources of data to satisfy the client transaction. This means there are several online storage units that the server must connect to process the application.
Single distribution strategy The results of the application need to be placed in a central location for access. Generally, this means one thing: Internet accessibility.
IT organizations also discuss ways in which they will address these problems. A typical snippet of conversation might sound like this: 'We must have wider bandwidth for data transfers from storage. The problem is size. The databases we work with are exceeding the limitations of the server's storage connectivity.' This translates as:
Wider bandwidth is needed . The connection between the server and storage unit requires a faster data transfer rate. The client/server storage model uses bus technology to connect and a device protocol to communicate, limiting the data transfer to about 10MB per second (maybe 40MB per second, tops).
The problem is size . The database and supporting online storage currently installed has exceeded its limitations, resulting in lagging requests for data and subsequent unresponsive applications. You may be able to physically store 500GB on the storage devices; however, it's unlikely the single server will provide sufficient connectivity to service application requests for data in a timely fashion-thereby bringing on the non-linear performance window quite rapidly .
Solution Storage networking enables faster data transfers, as well as the capability for servers to access larger data stores through applications and systems that share storage devices and data.
Others in IT may argue the point, saying, 'Actually, the real problem is access. We don't have sufficient resources to access the application server. This will only get worse if we go to a single distribution strategy.' This translates as:
The problem is access . There are too many users for the supported configuration. The network cannot deliver the user transactions into the server nor respond in a timely manner. Given the server cannot handle the number of transactions submitted, the storage and server components are grid locked in attempting to satisfy requests for data to be read or written to storage.
The single distribution strategy needs revisiting . A single distribution strategy can create an information bottleneck at the disembarkation point. We will explore this later in Parts III and IV of this book where application of SAN and NAS solutions are discussed. It's important to note, however, that a single distribution strategy is only a logical term for placing user data where it is most effectively accessed. It doesn't necessarily mean they are placed in a single physical location.
Solution With storage networking, user transactions can access data more directly, bypassing the overhead of I/O operations and unnecessary data movement operations to and through the server.
As we have demonstrated, albeit at a very high level, storage networking strategies can address each of these issues and make application strategies like single distribution a successful reality. However, this book's definition of storage infrastructures encompasses the entire IT experience, including both business and overhead applications. To understand storage networking technology and its benefits, it's important we define a few terms, especially those regarding applications that have evolved to drive the storage configurations.