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Application Integration Requires More Than JBODs

by Hu Yoshida on May 21, 2012

As long as I have been in storage, there have been predictions that storage will be commoditized and all you will need are JBODs.(JBOD stands for Just a Bunch Of Disks. I first heard this term when I was working for IBM over 30 years ago. I was working for the IBM storage division at that time; and I assumed that some engineer in the IBM server division who had no appreciation for storage coined it.) When IBM created the first disk drive it was called RAMAC for Random Access Method for Accounting and Control. The name was meant to describe its function as more than just a random access memory device, to include an access method for the application of accounting and control.

Later when IBM developed mainframes with multiple channel processors, the storage system became more intelligent with controllers that processed channel command words, which enabled random access, sequential access and index sequential access of variable length blocks. Later storage systems had cache memory which masked the mechanical performance of the disks and enabled availability functions like alternate paths, snapshots and distance replication.  Mainframe storage was designed from the beginning to support shared access across multiple channel processors. A Job Control Language (JCL) was required to tell the storage controller how much capacity to allocate, when to release it, whether it was random or sequential and other information to optimize the storage for the application.

When open systems, UNIX and Windows came along for workstations they did not have channel processors and did not share access to storage. An SCSI was developed which used a simple Fixed Block Architecture (FBA), and did away with the use of JCL. The conventional wisdom was that storage would soon become a commodity JBOD. But that did not happen. As these UNIX and Windows systems became more sophisticated and began running multiple applications taking over mainframe applications, they also needed the same availability and scalability functions of mainframe storage which had to be reverse engineered onto open systems storage.

When system hypervisors like VMware came along, they initially said that they could use JBODs since the hypervisor could do the formatting of virtual disks, synchronize the access between virtual machines, take snapshots, replicate the data when applications failed over and even do the thin provisioning to eliminate allocated but unused storage capacity.  However, as the number of virtual machines multiplied on a physical server and more production applications were running on these virtual machines, virtual servers began to offload these functions to the storage in order for the applications to scale.  In lieu of JCL or classification by a systems administrator, applications are beginning to communicate directly with storage through plug-ins, adapters and APIs. As a consequence, storage has had to become even more intelligent to support the closer integration of applications.

Here is a list of application integrations that are supported by HDS storage solutions:

VMware Integration

In addition to support of VMware VAAI, which was released with ESX V4, VMware solution adapters are tightly integrated with VMware vSphere plug-in framework and the vSphere VASA framework, to enable customers to manage and monitor VMware infrastructure components deployed on HDS storage solutions.

Storage Manager (aka vCenter plug-in)

Provides an integrated view of HDS storage resources mapped to VMware ESX VMs for monitoring capacity utilization and datastore provisioning.

Storage Provider (aka VASA Provider)

Provides native integration into the vSphere/ESX 5.x for reporting information on HDS storage and its components.

Microsoft Integration

Microsoft Solution adapters are tightly integrated with Microsoft platform and management framework, to enable customers to easily manage their Microsoft infrastructure deployed on HDS storage solutions.

VSS

Provides integration into the Microsoft Backup/Recovery Framework using Hitachi In-System Replication solution

SCOM MP

Provides integrated view of HDS storage resources for reporting and monitoring

Power Shell Snap-In

Provides integrated management of HDS storage resources within the PowerShell console environment

VMM Self Service Portal Adapter

Provides integrated management and automatic provisioning of virtual machines

Remote BLOB Store Provider

Provides integration into the SQL RBS Framework for storing large binary data (BLOBs) from SQL Server databases on to HDS storage

Oracle Integration

Oracle Solution adapters are tightly integrated with Oracle Database, Oracle Enterprise Manager and Oracle Virtual Machine Server, to enable customers to easily manage the Oracle infrastructure deployed on HDS storage solutions.

Oracle Enterprise Manager Plug-in

Provides integrated view of HDS storage resources for monitoring, capacity utilization, performance metrics and alerts

Oracle Virtual Machine Plug-in

Provides integrated management and automatic provisioning of virtual machines

Oracle Recovery Manager Adapter

Simplify backup and recovery of Oracle databases and minimize backup time and host performance impact by integrating Hitachi Shadow Image replication technology with Oracle Recovery Manager

Symantec Integration

Symantec Solution adapters are tightly integrated with Symantec NetBackup products, to enable customers to manage their backup infrastructure hosted on HDS storage solutions.

OST Adapter for Block

Provides integration into the Symantec OpenStorage framework to provide a high performing, optimized, scalable backup-to-disk solution for HDS block storage devices

OST Adapter for File

Provides integration into the Symantec OpenStorage framework to provide a high performing, optimized, scalable backup-to-disk solution for Hitachi NAS devices

EV Streamer Adapter

Provides integration into the Symantec Enterprise Vault framework that enables customers to store messaging and file system data in centrally held archives

These are just a few of the adapters and providers that are needed for closer integration between applications and infrastructure. More will be coming as the line between application and infrastructure becomes blurred and solutions distribute the workload across applications and intelligent storage for optimization. If you are going to be buying storage, make sure your storage is smart enough to support these functions.

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Comments (1)

Dumadum on 20 Jun 2012 at 1:09 am

Totally agree with you. Today, a storage seller or a storage implementation guy needs to be well aware of applications and their requirements and how they interface with storage. Clearly just great hardware specifications are meaningless to customers. What technologies are available to integrate storage more effectively with applications and how these solve customer day to day problems are more important today.

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