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While cloud storage grows, the next decade also will see servers and storage meld together into a single technology as customers demand IT systems that require fewer resources to manage and as vendors look for ways to increase storage performance.
Today, every major storage and server vendor has some sort of converged infrastructure bringing servers, storage and networking technologies together as a single system that can be managed as a whole. Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell have done so on their own, while Cisco, EMC, NetApp, Oracle and Hitachi Data Systems have done so in partnership with each other or with other networking vendors.
Technological constraints have kept servers and storage separate, said Vincent Hsu, an IBM Fellow. However, he said, flash memory and other new technologies are allowing them to be integrated, he said.
"The trick is, how can those silos work together?" Hsu said. "People are working very hard to get those silos to work together, both from an interoperability view and in systems from a single vendor, and then managing it all as one."
One way to do that is to forget the traditional data query process of making data available to a server. "In the future, users will send the queries to where the data is stored," he said. "The queries will be processed there locally, and then return the results faster. We will send the function to where the node is, and it will be processed there."
EMC plans to start demonstrating capabilities next year that allow customers to run virtual machines inside storage arrays, said Pat Gelsinger, former president and COO at EMC and current CEO of VMware.
"This allows you to say, 'Hey, the data is, like, really big and really hard to move around so why don't I move that comparatively light application right over to the big heavy data, and run it as close as I can to the data."