Enterprise Storage has evolved tremendously over the past several years with new technologies and platforms. What was once heavily leveraged using just disk drives and RAID levels, and performance was designed around spindle speeds and the number of drives. Now has become much more robust, high performance and includes, in many cases, artificial intelligence built in.
What does it all mean?
When it comes to storage there is an avalanche of new terms: Optane, All Flash, Hybrid, NVme, Object, S3, Hyperconverged, Tier 0, Enhanced Fibre Channel, iSCSI, Network attached, What does all this mean?
The Data for any organization is the life blood of that organization. And the applications and infrastructure that runs that data is the heart of the company. Getting the data to the applications in the proper manner, at the correct performance and availability levels to meet the organizations objectives needs to be the number one priority. How does one go about deciding which platform in the right fit for their environment?
Enterprise storage is a broad term. This term can be used to discuss the businesses primary data storage platform, it can also be used to refer to the fileshare storage where the network data store resides for general back office applications. And this term can also apply to backup and archive storage targets on prem or in the cloud.
The thing that can cause the most pain for an IT executive is when they have the wrong type of storage for their data and applications. Either the latency to access the data may be excessive or the duty cycle for the storage device is too high, resulting in pre-mature failures. The right tool for the job is always the best option.
WHY YOU NEED ENTERPRISE STORAGE?
Simplify Business Continuance
Many a story has been told about someone going down to the local commodity electronics store, buying a stack of hard disk drives, a Raid controller and an enclosure and taking these home to build out their own “Storage Area Network.” Only to discover that work needs to be done to get these items to play nice together and once it does finally get working, there is always something that comes up to make the storage go offline. Firmware incompatibilities, driver issues, HDD versions, etc.
The idea is sound. Build your own. Save a bunch of money. But so much more goes into the technology to make it Enterprise class. Years of R&D. Time and money invested. Beta testing with customers. Then once a solution has been fully baked, packaged and delivered with professional installation services and 24 x 7 onsite support.
Many High Availability Servers need to have a shared storage component to connect to each node in a cluster. This to be able to provide access to the data to all nodes, in case a host fails, the data would remain online. Server virtualization just takes this cluster server model to the next level. Instead of one server or application running on each node of the cluster, each server can have 20 or 30 applications running at the same time. This puts more strain on the storage, not only does it have to be highly available, but it also needs to perform to the level needed to support these additional applications.
Some people like to connect servers to a storage network and present volumes from that storage directly to each server. As physical blocks of storage. These storage networks are typically Fibre Channel or iSCSI. While others prefer to present Network shared files via NFS or SMB (CIFS) to their servers. Each has their use case. Understanding your requirements and the available technology to address those requirements will help make the right decision on which direction to go.
There is also a trend where many companies are looking at the hyper-converged solutions to build out their storage network along with their compute all together. This has it use cases as well. And also its limits. One needs to do the research to determine which direction best fits your needs.
No self-respecting IT executive wants to be “That Guy” that roled his own, so to speak, and had the Data system hang up or outright fail. Enterprise storage in today’s day and age, needs to be so much more. Performance, yes, gotta have it. Availability, absolutely, that is a given. And of course, scalability, a must. But more importantly, Enterprise Storage must include features to simplify business continuance, (i.e. Snapshot, replication and cloud connections) as well as to provide simplified management and simplified tuning. and integration into the applications. And besides all those features, it needs to be self aware, self monitoring and able to resolve many of the problems that occur on its own.
BENEFITS OF ENTERPRISE STORAGE
Able to design for the performance and availability that the applications require
Able to share between multiple servers at the same time
Ables to replicate to one or more locations for DR purposes
Able to scale as requirements dictate – both in performance and capacity