George Crump explains on informationweek.com what Unified Storage si
What started as a whisper has now become a roar. All of a sudden every storage vendor you talk to has Unified Storage and all of a sudden you MUST have it. All of which begs the question, what is unified storage and do you need it?
It seems like most of the storage suppliers have some sort of unified storage strategy but they all seem very different from each other. Unified in storage terms most often means that the storage system can often do more than one thing, in most cases this means it can be a SAN (Storage Area Network) i.e. block storage and a NAS (Network Attached Storage) i.e. File Services.
For many vendors this means that the storage system can support multiple storage protocols, most often iSCSI and the two NAS protocols (NFS and CIFS), somehow many, not all leave out fibre, which seems odd since it is still the dominant protocol in larger enterprises. Unified storage should include support of fibre, especially if the target market is the larger data center.
In some cases a supplier will claim unification if they add a gateway type of device to a existing storage infrastructure, typically a NAS head that attaches to the SAN. This is more an amortization of storage resources more so than unification. It does not mean that it is a flawed strategy, just that its a bit of a stretch to equate a gateway to a unified storage system.
The goal of unification is to try to reduce the number of interfaces and devices you have in your storage environment and only a few of the suppliers accomplish this. Basically one box or system that does NAS and SAN all managed and controlled by a single storage software interface. In theory this should simplify storage management.