Federated Storage: What the Hell?

What is Federated Storage?

Next week is EMC World and we’re going to hear a lot more about Federated Storage. In March, EMC put Pat Gelsinger in front of the analyst community and he unveiled the vision of a virtualized, global, federated, cache coherent storage infrastructure…for the cloud. Wow – that’s a mouthful.

I hit the Twitter crowd to see what they thought  was meant by Federated Storage- here’s some of what came back:

@gregoryjoconnor said: Looks a lot like I hybrid cloud but for storage…Hybrid storage [haaaa]

@karenmcp weighed in with: When you can look across various repositories to Know What You Have, and Where – and access it. Federated storage

@ianht says: Now along wanders ‘Federation‘ as the latest word to be put through the hype & definition mangler

@stuiesav said: it would be of great help to the industry if some firm definition of terms were made

Okay…here’s my bid at a definition.

Federated storage is the collection of autonomous storage resources governed by a common management system that provides rules about how data is stored, managed, and migrated throughout the storage network. In this definition, storage resources include disk capacity managed by controllers or appliances controlling multiple arrays.

Practitioners should think of individual resources (e.g. arrays) as nodes within the federation. By enabling a loosely coupled set of storage resource nodes to act unilaterally and still be managed centrally, organizations can, over some distance, create networks of virtually limitless capacities, move data and applications globally, eliminate disruptive migrations and dramatically improve recovery.

Technologies are coming onto the market to exploit such architectures, particularly in file and object environments (e.g. scale out NAS, Google File System, EMC’s Atmos, Cleversafe, etc). In block-based worlds, as is often the case, functional and robust software lags hardware. This is what makes EMC’s expected announcement so important as it appears to be coming out of the block-based Symmetrix group.

What Problems Does Federated Storage Solve?

If it works as advertised…only some of the world’s biggest – data migration without disruption, more facile workload and data movement, higher availability at lower cost, faster recovery at distance…

What – no world hunger? :-)

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