The Impending Death of Storage Area Network Technology
The initial introduction of storage area network (SAN) technology saw it being hailed as a revolutionary solution to storage problems. The world of IT infrastructure was more than happy to integrate this cutting-edge technology into their architecture. Since then, SAN has spurred crucial improvements and innovative practices in data storage. But the latest advances in data centres and cloud computing has forced everyone to stop and confront a long-expected fear: Will storage area networking even be necessary after a few years?
During the early part of the 21st century, the need for more storage capacity was rising at a faster pace than that which was provided through individual disks. Even the servers were only able to provide a certain number of disk slots to alleviate this problem.
Even though a number of disks could be added to a particular server, the data stored on it was stuck within it rather than being accessible across the network. Disks still had to physically removed from one server to the other when redistribution was necessary. Naturally, this led to excessively high budgets and overestimating storage capacities.
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SAN technology swept in with perfect timing just like Gandalf the Wizard when the war is about to be lost. It allowed servers to pool their resources across a network. Initially, it ended up being pretty expensive, but data centre companies didn't mind the extra expense as it revolutionized the way storage was fundamentally planned and structured. On top of that, virtualisation pushed the envelope even further. Conventional thinking suggested virtualisation would be a threat to SAN technology, but server virtualisation was gradually embraced everywhere and became a necessity. But virtual technology on top of SAN architecture ended up being a huge resource drain and the hybrid solution was only saved by advanced CPU's and flash storage.
Recent advances in software-oriented storage have shone the spotlight on SAN's inefficiency even brighter. Even worse, the advent of hyper-converged architecture has basically made SAN redundant. Hyper-convergence and cloud services round up all of SAN's various components, like servers and management tools, and roll them into one. Ultimately, SANs flaws were too great to work around or cover up. The technology was not conducive enough for scaling, too expensive despite entering the mainstream scene a long time ago, and simply resulted in server admins to beg for daily storage quotas.
As long as an organization was limited to 40-50 workloads per year, this architecture was fine. But businesses have been scaling up rapidly and looking to make in excess of 30,000 workloads every single year. Ultimately, IndustryARC findings suggest that the emergence of hyper-convergence technology served as the final nail in the coffin. It provides greater choice, flexibility, ease of use and affordability on a relative basis.
The success of any new technology does not hinge on meeting any preset objectives or data targets; it hinges on allowing us to multiply and enhance our capabilities. Even though SAN technology enjoyed a lot of success early on, it is quite clearly not an answer for future storage problems. The end is nigh for a very popular storage architecture.