Why Pay More for IT Storage?
Technology knows no boundaries and today more than ever end consumer experiences are defining adoption of newer technologies every day. In an era where companies like Google, Amazon and a host of successful Cloud startups are redefining the very way consumers and businesses deploy and apply technology in our day to day lives, performance, freedom, flexibility, convenience and scalability are key technology evaluation criteria.
As a storage administrator, for years you have been working with complex proprietary technologies to manage disparate file and Block data system challenges in increasingly multi-application environments. But with most companies witnessing an explosive growth in unstructured data in recent times it is becoming increasingly imperative to continuously track and monitor such data so you don’t hit a boundary in terms of capacity or I/O for file level-sharing.
A new breed of unified storage solutions promise to make your life easier.
But with so many vendor and proprietary options to choose from this task can be anything but easy. Perhaps you may find the following pointers useful in choosing the right vendor/solution for your needs:
· Native Performance – Check if the solutions you are considering provide native file system support? You are well aware that block-level data require shorter access times while file level data take longer to service access request. To guarantee high I/O and rapid access for your most critical data such as emails, online databases OLTP applications, you would be better off with a unified system that embeds file system support in the storage controller itself.
· Freedom from Vendor lock - They say old habits die hard. Older storage vendors continue to offer proprietary unified storage systems that will ensure for all your future expansions are tied to them. It would be better if you chose a vendor whose solution is built using standard off the shelf components and will, in future, allow you to take advantage of rapid advancements in hardware component, protocol and interface technologies while guaranteeing backward compatibility.
· Flexibility – Newer generation unified storage offerings come with unique and often proprietary approach to target the I/O profile of a mixed file and block workload. Rapid advances in processor speeds and integration of I/O protocols further into processor chipsets and GPUs by companies like Intel and NVIDA have ensured that a breed of new generation storage vendors are able to bring multiprotocol together in a single device with an extremely high degree of I/O efficiency at lower cost points. Many such vendors are startups but their solutions are winning customers as they are built around state of art components offered by players like Intel and NVDIA.
· Convenience – Check how the unified system you are evaluating enables you to provision, store and manage capacity utilization for block and file level storage. Also assess its ability to connect over GbE, 10G, 40G, iSCSI, Infiniband, Fibre or FCoE while providing fast file access across NFS and CIFS protocols. Most unified systems tend to be better at one capability than the other. Make sure that you test the system under specific workload conditions and requisite configurations and opt for the one that fits your requirements best.
· Scalability – While you may know what is most important to your current storage environment both from access and protocol perspective, it would be prudent to choose a solution that offers you immense freedom to scale over file share size, storage drive bays, storage capacity from TB to PB, memory expansion, support for SSD integration/acceleration, thin provisioning, mixed workload support, virtualization integration and efficiency.
· Unification – Bringing your file and block storage into a single device enables you to apply the device anywhere and for any application. Even better, look for storage devices that also integrate virtual tape library (VTL) into the same device making it possible for you to partition one single storage box into NAS, SAN and VTL.
With unified storage systems, storage I/O is entirely dependant on the way the vendor chooses to design the solution. Choosing the right vendor and solution can actually determine whether you find the storage solution truly unified and productive. Size of the company does not matter. Only solution design, customer base, solution experience does.
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