Home Business IT Technology Self-tuning storage is the future, says Oracle executive
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An Oracle executive has told iTWire that the role of storage administrators will change significantly as storage arrays increasingly tune themselves in response to the demands placed on them by applications.

"Traditional storage management is dead," Oracle senior director of storage products Jason Schaffer told iTWire.

The cost of managing storage has wiped out the savings that would have been made through the falling cost per gigabyte of storage hardware, he said.

Consequently, traditional storage management practices should be considered obsolete. The time-consuming task of tuning storage to meet the demands of applications is no longer viable, especially as it must be repeated when any changes are made to the applications.

Technologies such as Oracle's DTrace Analytics and Hybrid Columnar Compression already make a significant difference, dramatically improving administrator productivity by identifying and resolving bottlenecks, and reducing database sizes to as little as one-fiftieth and making queries execute up to five times faster.

But that's "just the tip of the iceberg," said Schaffer. Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol allows applications to communicate with the storage subsystem, allowing the automatic tuning of around 55% of the variables needed for optimum database performance.

This approach works thanks to Oracle's 'complete stack' approach - the company supplies hardware (the former Sun and StorageTek businesses), operating system (Linux), database, and applications. This allows the applications to deliver 'hints' to the storage subsystem about what is required for good performance.

Administrators are therefore largely freed from routine tuning, troubleshooting and repairs, and can instead work at the system level, which is "much more in tune with business needs," said Schaffer.

"Today, it [the interaction of applications and storage] is part of the 'secret sauce'," he said, but he expects the necessary APIs to be opened to other vendors over time. But he believes Oracle will retain an advantage simply because of the way it can engineer complete systems to work optimally.

However, the procurement practices of organisations may negate these benefits if they continue to seek quotations from multiple suppliers for individual subsystems (eg, a storage array with a certain capacity) rather than taking an overall view of what is necessary to obtain the required level of performance.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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