Unified Vs. Converged Storage

Unified Vs. Converged Storage
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Converged storage evolved out of the unified model and promises great leaps in capabilities.

Converged storage evolved out of the unified model and promises great leaps in capabilities.

Converged storage evolved out of the unified model and promises great leaps in capabilities.

We’re writing this in late December, and that means party platter time. Amidst the countless parties we attend in the build-up to New Year’s Day, plenty of people bring veggie trays, which is great since it’s usually the only healthy food to appear at the event. No matter how many parties you visit, though, the pattern stays the same: the baby carrots go first, the cherry tomatoes see decent action, several brave souls make a dent in the broccoli and celery (if you have a decent dip), and no one touches the cauliflower. Ever. Why do supermarkets even bother? Perhaps it’s just a cheap way to add visual variety and fill space in the name of having a broad platter selection.

You might think of unified storage like a veggie platter. It gets a few pieces right. There’s usually something for everyone. But the several components of the platter can vary widely in quality and rarely, if ever, do they all complement one another equally.

NetApp was an early voice in the unified storage world, and the company’s intent was persuasive. NetApp was strong in file-based NAS storage, but there was a whole different side of the market dedicated to block-based Fibre Channel SAN storage and iSCSI. NetApp extended its filesystem to accommodate all three technologies, placing each of them equally on the platter of unified storage. And it made sense. All three accessed common disk resources, shared the same management, and went in the same box. Unified storage had succeeded in improving simplicity.

The trouble, according to Brad Parks, converged infrastructure strategist for HP Storage, is that unified storage doesn’t improve enough.

“What we think customers are now looking for isn’t necessarily an easier way to manage storage but rather an easier way to manage infrastructure,” says Parks. “We can get to the same simplicity of management found in unified storage by managing storage as part of the rest of the stack, using common tools to manage server, storage, and networking simultaneously. Look at tools like our plug-in for VMware vCenter, where you manage storage and networking through the same interface. We can automate the provisioning of storage through our HP Cloud System interface, where customers can just drag and drop services through a portal and they don’t ever have to touch storage management. We’re delivering superior simplicity by taking storage management out of the equation.”

William Van Winkle has been a full-time tech writer and author since 1998. He specializes in a wide range of coverage areas, including unified communications, virtualization, Cloud Computing, storage solutions and more. William lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his wife and 2.4 kids, and—when not scrambling to meet article deadlines—he enjoys reading, travel, and writing fiction.

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