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Six considerations when choosing a next-generation storage architecture

By Al Perlman

Businesses today are looking to technologies such as cloud computing, mobility, social networking and big data analytics to drive a new wave of innovation. IDC has characterised these four developments as the pillars of a dominant new computing platform that will account for 80% of all growth in IT spending between now and the end of the decade.

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This new wave of innovation, however, will challenge the existing infrastructures in most enterprises, particularly the legacy storage architectures built over the past 25 years to support traditional hard disk drive (HDD) storage systems.

IT decision-makers are recognising that the economics of enterprise storage must change if they are to deploy storage infrastructures that deliver the speed and agility required by today's IT solutions at a price point that is affordable. Where are enterprises feeling the pain with today's legacy storage systems?

  1. Fixed and predictable storage array upgrade and migration cycles. With data capacity and performance requirements growing so rapidly, it makes poor economic sense to just keep adding and upgrading existing arrays.
  2. Software re-licensing required with each upgrade or usage change.
  3. Data rigidly coupled to hardware.
  4. Capacity over-provisioning required to meet service level agreements.
  5. Storage not optimised for the broader datacenter/cloud ecosystem. This is particularly important in addressing the need for using flash storage (also called Solid-State Drives - SSDs) in conjunction with HDDs to address the performance challenges of critical applications such as e-commerce, virtualisation, cloud computing and big data analytics.

In looking at next-generation storage architectures, enterprises need solutions that enable them to:

  • Acquire, deploy and grow storage on demand
  • Adapt seamlessly to changing business needs
  • Intelligently manage data to assure business continuity

Dell has been a driving force in changing the economics of enterprise storage. Dell is the only major vendor that has found a way to offer flash solutions at disk economics. Dell solutions save customers as much as 5x versus competitive all-flash arrays. In addition, Dell’s architectures support the use of flash and HDD together in one architecture with automated tiering , so customers can be assured that each disk is maximised and optimised for performance and cost efficiency. Dell’s solutions benefit customers by:

  • Harnessing state-of-the-art technologies to deliver innovative, simple and affordable solutions
  • Delivering workload-driven architectures that are flexible and modular
  • Accelerating software and service integration

As enterprise IT decision makers look to address the new economics of enterprise storage, they need to position their storage infrastructures to deliver on the price, performance, speed and agility requirements of next-generation IT applications. What should enterprise IT decision-makers look for in their next-generation storage architecture? Here are six characteristics to consider:

  1. Flash storage: Flash is the only technology that will deliver the IOPS  necessary for many workloads and applications.
  2. Utilisation and optimisation of all storage: While flash may be dominant for many Tier One applications, its performance will not be necessary for many other applications. Your next-generation architecture should support all-flash, hybrid flash and legacy hard disk drives in one solution.
  3. Flexibility: As technology advances in the future, you want to make sure your architecture has the flexibility to support new solutions without having to go through constant and expensive refresh cycles.
  4. Cost-efficiencies: Without the proper architecture in place, costs can get out of hand very quickly. Flash can be very expensive, so you want to make sure your flash solution delivers industry-leading price/performance. At the same time, you want to make sure you are also using ultra-dense storage for data that doesn't require the levels of performance that flash can provide.
  5. Enterprise-class functionality: Many of the start-up all-flash vendors are new to the enterprise market and don’t necessarily understand all of the characteristics that drive enterprise-class decision-making. Your next-generation storage architecture should be proven as enterprise-ready, delivering the resiliency, reliability and robustness you’ve come to expect from your existing NAS or SAN architectures.
  6. Enterprise-class features: Primary among these is automated tiering, so that the storage solution can optimise each disk within the infrastructure and maximise your investment. Other features to look for are thin provisioning and snapshotting to optimise capacity.

In moving forward and evaluating your next-generation storage architecture to support next-generation business innovation, you want to make sure your selection addresses all of these key areas. You will find that Dell solutions not only address all of your needs, but they are by far the most cost-efficient options available. What’s more, the Dell architectural approach provides the opportunity to maximize your existing investment, while enabling you to support next-generation advances in storage technology. Storage is critical to your next wave of business innovation. Now is the time to make sure you put the right storage architecture in place.

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