Looking for balance between flash and traditional storage
Encrypting data storage is now high on APAC priorities
THE explosion of data is forcing companies to look at ways of storing it cheaply but securely.
Losing data has real implications for organisations – 72% of businesses that suffer a major data loss shut down within 24 months, according to security firm Imprima.
Data concerns are further complicated by the fact that data storage seems to be in transition between flash storage for performance, and traditional disks for costs, according to Mark Lazarus, director of technology, Asia Pacific and Japan, at Nimble Storage.
Traditional disk storage currently holds strong not just in Asia, but even the rest of the world, he told Digital News Asia (DNA) via email.
“These systems have effectively been the only options available for enterprise storage for the last few decades,” Lazarus said.
But while “traditional [storage] arrays are capable of storing large amounts of data, they are not suited to provide the performance required by today’s enterprises,” he added.
Some companies, eager to leverage the higher performance of flash storage, have tried to simply stick flash drives into traditional storage arrays.
“A lot of these systems are attempting to retrofit flash to make a hybrid array, but success has been limited because these systems are designed around spinning disks, not flash, and do not make effective use of this newer technology,” Lazarus said.
And despite the performance boost promised by flash storage, organisations are still hesitant to fully rely on it due to its higher cost.
“All flash systems can provide better performance, but are not suited to scaling costs effectively for larger amounts of data,” Lazarus said.
However, writing off traditional disk storage would be premature as these old boys still do some functions well, he argued.
The answer to this conundrum is to strike a balance between the two – a flexible system that can use the strengths of both.
“The change away from traditional storage systems is already under way, with a move toward systems that can provide both high performance and high capacity by flexibly using both flash and disk,” Lazarus said.
Asia converges, and secures its data
Asian organisations are always looking for lower costs, including the total cost of ownership (TCO) – the direct and indirect costs of maintaining a system, including support and manpower and not just the technology.
Lower TCO is “lower cost and management, and less datacentre space,” Lazarus said.
Thus they are looking at a converged infrastructure, which groups together multiple IT components such as servers, data storage devices, and networking equipment for easier infrastructure management, automation, and orchestration.
“Organisations want to decrease the risk of deployments by using pre-defined, pre-sized and pre-configured infrastructure stacks that incorporate compute, network and storage,” Lazarus said.
“The key to ensuring a cost-effective converged solution is to ensure that compute, performance at the host and storage level, and storage capacity are all independently scalable,” he added.
Being able to independently scale the different components allows organisations to handle any surge or drop in demand in any of the components, cost-effectively.
Organisations in Asia are also looking at security as an increasingly crucial part of the business. This is also being translated into the data storage space.
“Encryption is high on the agenda,” Lazarus said. “For a lot of organisations, adding this level of security means acquiring new storage hardware, for example drive encryption or licences.”
Encryption does not compromise data storage features, he argued – for example, encrypting data after compression still preserves the space efficiency that compression brings.
While there is a shift towards flash from traditional disk storage, there is also a shift in the way such data storage is being utilised, according to Lazarus.
Unlike the ‘stick flash in the traditional array’ crowd, “the industry is already seeing a transition away to newer storage architectures that have been designed from the ground-up to flexibly leverage flash and disk,” he said.
These architectures redesign the way data is handled, allowing maximum utilisation of currently available resources.
Flash storage will also continue to grow in usage despite its associated high costs, according to Lazarus.
“While the cost of flash still has some way to go before it can effectively compete with disk on a dollar-per-gigabyte basis, its use will continue to grow for specific workloads to provide improved performance for applications,” he added.
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