Do you have a certain word or phrase that every time you hear it is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard? Sometimes publications, such as TIME magazine, will actually publish a list of banished words or phrases that the nation is simply sick of hearing. In case you were interested, recent lists have included over-publicized terms such as selfie, YOLO (you only live once), and literally (when you really mean figuratively). For me the term that—figuratively—brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it is “outside the box.”
The original premise for that phrase was so promising: take a seemingly intractable problem and look at it from a different perspective or from a different point of view to find a creative solution. Through over use, however, the idea of outside the box thinking became both trivialized and a bit insulting. Have a problem? Try thinking outside the box. Didn’t work? Oh well, good luck then. It takes a considerable amount of work and effort to find and create unique perspectives and look at problems in new ways. The source of my frustration is that the overuse of the phrase trivialized the hard work that it takes to truly find new perspectives. So what does this have to do with enterprise storage?
Earlier this week, Infinite io announced the world’s first network based storage controller, the NSC-110, and the solution looks to be the result of some outside the box thinking. The NSC-110 is designed to reside inside the storage network infrastructure and automatically redirect older or stale data to lower cost on-premises or off-premises cloud storage. I know what you are thinking. You have heard of these solutions before. Often, storage virtualization implementations require a new storage target to be introduced, changing the access method for users and applications and often requiring the rewriting of software. These types of solutions also introduce a level of lock-in since removing the appliance means changing the access points back again. This is where the outside the box aspect comes in, in more ways than one actually.
The engineering team behind Infinite io, has roots in the world of IP network security. The intelligence of the NSC-110 connects to the storage ecosystem as if it were a network switch, not a new storage target, or box. It resides inside the network and invisible to the applications, no new targets and no new mount points. It would take ex-networking folks to look at a storage virtualization problem and think, switches can move data invisibly from the application’s perspective, so why can’t an intelligent storage appliance? This is just the beginning for Infinite io, however, and there are still many hurdles for the young company to surpass. That being said, moving storage intelligence outside the storage box and into the network is an interesting concept and will likely present a host of opportunities down the road.