Technology is increasingly becoming a strategic enabler in every industry. Businesses have started depending on IT more than ever before to compete effectively and get an edge, and business leaders want information technology platforms that can enable new business models quickly. They want to be able to quickly deliver new products and services based on market demand, to get rich actionable insights about their customers and operations, and so on. But IT infrastructure today cannot deliver what business needs. So let’s talk about how we got here.
15-20 years ago, applications ran on dedicated physical servers with storage directly attached. This worked great when there were few applications that businesses relied on, but became more complex to manage as the number of apps grew. You also had resource inefficiencies because applications running on over-utilized servers couldn’t use the available capacity on free servers.
Virtualization solved this problem by decoupling applications from physical servers and making compute a scale-out resource. In order for virtualization to become enterprise-ready, you needed features like live migration or vMotion, VM high availability, DRS and load balancing and so on. This created the need for shared storage across physical servers. While the SAN wasn’t created with virtualization in mind, it was the only proven technology available at the time.
Architecturally, the SAN is a scale-up storage system. You figure out how much storage capacity and performance you’ll need in the next few years, and pick an appropriate size storage controller ahead of time. As your storage needs grow, you end up with multiple storage systems that become resource silos. The problem with this is that with virtualization, compute is a scale-out resource but it’s trying to work with storage that is a scale-up resource.