Will Ethernet kill SANs?

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Moore’s Claw is at work in the storage business. If you want to get a low down on the state of storage networks, and what’s wrong or right with them, check out Fazal Majid’s latest.

As hard drives get denser, the cost of raw storage is getting ridiculously cheap – well under a dollar per gigabye as I write. The cost of managed storage, however, is an entirely different story.

While writing my story, The Rise of the Insta-Company, I met with Dan Warmenhoven, chief executive of Network Appliances. he had said, the future of storage is in adding value on top of commodity drives. Be it networked storage, IPod or TiVO. The drive maker in any of these cases does not make any real money, but those who add value – software, or in case of TiVO “user experience” makes all the cash.

Fazal is spot on with his analysis, and predicts declining margins in the expensive SAN business.

One logical way to lower the cost of SANs is to use inexpensive Ethernet connectivity. This was recently standardized as iSCSI, which is essentially SCSI running on top of TCP/IP. I recently became aware of Ximeta, a company that makes external drives that apparently implement iSCSI, at a price that is very close to that of raw disks (since iSCSI does not have to manage state for clients the way a more featured NAS does, Ximeta can shun expensive CPUs and RAM, and use a dedicated ASIC instead).

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” Ximeta can shun expensive CPUs and RAM, and use a dedicated ASIC instead”.

Huh? The typical marketing-speak is generally to say that technology X is great because it runs on cheap off-the-shelf CPUs rather than expensive custom built ASICs.

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