10.1 Unified Storage Systems Introduction

In any enterprise data center, different storage systems (block-based, file-based, and object-based storage) are deployed to meet the needs of different applications. In many cases, this situation has been complicated by mergers and acquisitions that bring together disparate storage infrastructures. 

The resulting mixture of storage systems have increased the overall cost to the organization because of complex management, low storage utilization, and direct data center costs for power, space, and cooling. 

So the Unified Storage System provides an ideal solution to the above said limitations which would be to have an integrated storage solution that supports block, file, and object access. Unified storage is a single integrated storage infrastructure that simultaneously supports Fibre Channel (FC), Fibre-Channel-over-Ethernet (FCoE), IP Storage Area Networks (iSCSI), Network Attached Storage (NAS) data protocols, along with REST and SOAP protocols.

Unified Storage Systems Architecture

Unified storage architecture enables the creation of a common storage pool that can be shared across a diverse set of applications with a common set of management processes.

The key component of a unified storage architecture is unified controller. The unified controller provides the functionalities of block storage, file storage, and object storage. It contains iSCSI, FC, FCoE, and IP front-end ports for direct block access to application servers and file access to NAS clients.
Unified Storage by EMC

For block-level access, the controller configures LUNs and presents them to application servers and the LUNs presented to the application server appear as local physical disks. A file system is configured on these LUNs at the server and is made available to applications for storing data. 

Also Read: Object Based Storage Systems (OSD) Overview

For NAS clients, the controller configures LUNs and creates a file system on these LUNs and creates a NFS, CIFS, or mixed share, and exports the share to the clients. 

Some storage vendors offer REST API to enable object-level access for storing data from the web/cloud applications.

The advantages by deploying unified storage systems 

  • Creates a single pool of storage resources that can be managed with a single management interface.
  • Sharing of pooled storage capacity for multiple business workloads should lead to a lower overall system cost and administrative time, thus reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • Provides the capability to plan the overall storage capacity consumption. Deploying a unified storage system takes away the guesswork associated with planning for file and block storage capacity separately.
  • Increased utilization, with no stranded capacity. Unified storage eliminates the capacity utilization penalty associated with planning for block and file storage support separately.
  • Provides the capability to integrate with software-defined storage environment to provide next generation storage solutions for mobile, cloud, big data, and social computing needs.
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