The Giant Isn’t Dead. Yet.

Enterprise data storage is changing, and question marks are being placed over the future of monolithic storage arrays like EMC’s VMAX, HDS’ VSP and IBM’s DS8000. When I read commentary on this it reminds me of the plethora of opinion articles from previous years heralding the death of tape in the data centre. Yet, when I talk to my customers today I find that tape is not as dead as the forecasters said it would be. It has a place and remains very much alive. I wonder, then, whether the predictions that these giants of the data centre have a much shortened life expectancy are realistic.

 

Enterprise class storage arrays, such as the ones above have been and still are fabulously useful. They can hold seriously huge volumes of data, come with a dizzying assortment of features and serve their most demanding of clients with unerring reliability. Centralising data storage in these arrays has reduced operational data centre expenses the world over. Huge data repositories can be managed by a single administrator and proactive monitoring and dial home fault reporting has allowed those admins to focus on provision, not maintenance.  Overall, I like these systems, they have served us really well.

 

But I also like the other technologies which have been gaining momentum over the last few years. Software only solutions like Datacore and Nexenta, converged and hyperconverged solutions like Nutanix, and Simplivity, flash only arrays like Pure and Solidfire and software defined storage all represent exciting developments in what had become a rather unexciting field.  Each solution has benefits over and above the monolithic arrays, performance, flexibility and cost are the most frequently touted.

 

But then again, not every application needs local solid state disk for performance reasons. Not every virtual machine needs near-zero failover between data centres (or continents).  What is certain, is that the volumes of data we are holding are increasing, and increasing rapidly. To hold that data you need a lot of storage space, something large – perhaps monolithic.

 

The answer doesn’t lie with a single solution. A mature environment will have balanced cost, risk and performance and appropriately mapped each application and workload with the most appropriate storage solution.  In the same way that tape hasn’t disappeared from the data centre yet the monolithic storage array isn’t going anywhere soon either. There are too many use cases where despite the competition it is still the right choice.

 

Contact us to find out how Accordant can help you to strike the right balance between cost, risk and performance and to optimise services to deliver maximum value to your customers.