Its 10 years to the month since I put in my first Fibre Channel storage solution. I was working for the biggest stock broking firm (by sales) in Australia and we needed some new and large systems for a global trading initiative. I was running Sun E4000 servers and Sun RSM 2000 storage arrays (using 9 GB disks) with a Sun rebranded Veritas 2.3 managing the storage. I was impressed with the performance and so were the end users. I was in seventh heaven. All the money I wanted both in hardware and salary. The bonuses were big and so was the cost of hardware. As I was also a die hard DBA (Sybase), I was actually horrified at the 9 GB drives. They were too big and I actively only used the outside area of the disks so I could get my required speed and spindles.
Here I am 10 years older and still doing much the same thing with a few years break in the middle doing Enterprise Systems Management. Only real difference to 10 years ago is that I have lots more to look after. I am definitely not a specialist when it comes to forecasting the future of what? Some people out there want SAN to mean other things instead of purely fibre channel. When I have a free moment I look at all those online storage sites raving on about the future of Storage. They all have experts who say that fibre channel is dying quickly and we will all be using iSCSI or FCoE tomorrow if not next week.
So the next time I read the experts view on something, perhaps they can tell me why they think it is the next big thing. I think it has to be driven by costs. My SAN costs lots and probably equals the GDP of some African nations. My data is extremely important and that's why we have the current infrastructure. All the discussions about the future of IP or Ethernet based SAN's never really talks about the security of the data.
I love reading headline stories about John Doe who is the CIO of some company where he uses iSCSI for a hundred users of Exchange. We class Exchange as a Tier one solution and have tens of thousands of people hanging off it. We have invested lots of money in doing stretched clustering of Exchange and all the servers are part of a five node cluster using True Copy. The same goes for our database servers.
I am waiting for iSCSI or FCoE to be introduced to our Mainframe environment.
The problem with FCoE is that it is going to take a long time before it may get introduced into large business for important work. I am looking at replacing my Brocade Directors in two years as they will have reached the end of their costed life in our organisation which is 4 years. So, if FCoE is not up and running by then, it is likely that we wont look at it for 6 or 7 years into the future. That's not overnight or next week.
The most interesting thing about iSCSI or FCoE is that you still need hefty SAN switches to present it. I don't see any $5k switches from Brocade or Cisco that do it. The cheapest Cisco switch is the 9216i and that is not cheap if you are looking at saving money by using non FC devices. I have not done a lot of research into that so there could be much cheaper brands that can do iSCSI or FCoE.
There is that old saying that ex is a has been and a spurt is a drip under pressure. So is that the definition of an expert writing for some wanna be tabloid style web sites.
If the experts are going to make predictions, then at least quantify them with decent reasons and expectations.
Can I become an expert and say that we will be using 100 Gbps wireless networking for storage area connections by 2010?