Changing the Economics of Enterprise Storage
What to look for in a storage system to address enterprise requirements for agility and flexibility
Today's enterprise storage solutions have to be more flexible and agile than ever to address three important and rapidly evolving requirements:
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- Increased capacity. Storage capacity demands are growing at a staggering pace, with no end in sight. According to IDC’s most recent Digital Universe study, the amount of data created and stored will grow 50-fold during the course of this decade. And it’s not just production data that’s growing quickly. Organizations have to make sure they have agile and efficient backup and archiving systems in place, using the latest storage technologies—thin provisioning, snapshotting, deduplication and automated tiering—to address capacity challenges.
- Faster speeds, more IOPS, better performance. Traditional hard disk drive (HDD) storage systems are struggling to meet the speed and performance requirements of many of today’s most critical applications, including online transaction processing (OLTP), virtualization and big data analytics. Organizations are increasingly turning to flash storage solutions for some of these applications, but flash is neither necessary nor cost-efficient for most workloads. Therefore, enterprises require flexible architectures that deploy flash in combination with legacy storage. It also makes sense to use a flexible architecture that extends the lifecycle of legacy solutions in order to save money.
- Mixed workloads. One of the biggest challenges for any storage solution is that it rarely addresses a one-size-fits-all environment. The storage infrastructure typically serves a mixed-workload environment, where there might be demands for the high IOPS requirements of OLTP and server virtualization or the ability to handle boot storms for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), as well as the growing capacity demands of unstructured data driven by social media. In addition, with more organizations increasingly turning to disk-based solutions for backup and archiving, the storage architecture has to have the flexibility to meet the needs of all workloads, whether they are driven by the need for improved performance, greater capacity or, in certain cases, both performance and capacity.
A storage architecture that supports automated tiering provides enterprises with the flexibility and agility to best handle these three interrelated challenges. With automated tiering, the organization can set parameters so that storage performance and workload requirements are always aligned with the optimal system cost, based on cost per gigabyte or, in more performance-oriented workloads, cost per IOPS. Data automatically moves to the right disk depending upon where it is in its lifecycle: High-performance production data stays on the fastest storage arrays, while data that is less dependent on performance, such as data for archiving, moves to arrays that are designed to optimize capacity.
It is important to note, however, that while many vendors offer automated tiering, not all automated tiering architectures are created equal. The biggest differentiator for organizations to consider is the agility and flexibility of the solution in combining traditional rotating HDDs with newer flash technology.
That’s one important area where flash-optimized solutions from Dell offer significant advantages versus competitive solutions. With Dell solutions, organizations can put in place a single system that has the flexibility to provide a range of options, from all-flash to HDD-based storage, delivering the lowest cost per gigabyte. A single Dell platform can be configured as:
- All-flash for the most demanding workloads, requiring high IOPS, low latency and fast throughput. These types of workloads include OLTP systems, highly virtualized environments, data warehousing systems and big data analytics.
- Hybrid flash for general workloads where performance can be increased with limited flash capacity for selected workloads, such as VDI, which needs high performance at specific times to handle boot storms.
- HDD-based storage where the demands are for large capacity and the lowest cost per gigabyte, targeting non-performance-sensitive workloads such as backup and archiving.
While flexibility and agility are critical in selecting a storage solution, enterprise decision-makers need to consider other factors as well. Cost, of course, is always critical, and Dell has changed the economics of storage by offering flash at the price of HDD storage, saving customers as much as five times versus competitive all-flash arrays.
In addition, for any enterprise storage solution, decision-makers demand enterprise-caliber reliability, resilience and robustness, along with simplified manageability and scalability. Again, Dell is providing leadership by incorporating all-flash solutions within a proven enterprise-class storage architecture.
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