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Tracking the World's Biggest SAN

We at Byte and Switch are on the trail of the world's biggest SAN.

Within the next few days, we'll be unveiling the results of a search for the largest storage networks worldwide.

What's the point? Well, there are a couple of points, actually:

  • Role modeling. Large SANs push the envelope. If I'm looking to expand a network of 5 Tbytes, what better way than to study the fate of those who've gone above the petabyte level? Big SAN stories furnish a glimpse into the outer limits of scalability.
  • Documentation. Many really big storage networks are associated with research or government projects; as a result, they're well tested and documented. When NASA upgraded the storage for its supercomputing site last year, for instance, the agency was able to compare the SANs it chose very specifically against others. Who wouldn't want to use that data in a pitch to the boss?
  • New technology. Really big networks often serve as testbeds that later go commercial. Advancements such as dispersed storage often start out as science projects. Other innovations are commercially funded but just as interesting. Google's storage network, for instance, operates on specially designed software, from which others are eager to learn, despite Google's notorious reticence. (See Google's Space Oddity and Google Groans Under Data Strain.)

The above list shows just a few of the reasons we're seeking big SANs. The most compelling driver is that, like everyone, we enjoy a great story. And what better tale to tell than one of new frontiers in our chosen field of coverage?

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