The KSS principle: Keep storage simple(r)

  • Most IT leaders and storage administrators believe that storing and managing data is too complex today
  • They have to manage explosive data growth with lower budgets – to do more with less

The KSS principle: Keep storage simple(r)EXPERTS like to talk about the big trends driving the storage industry — trends like automation, flash and convergence. Although these trends are important, there are just two points for storage professionals, CIOs and business executives to bear in mind: The accelerating growth of data to be stored, currently averaging 50% per year; and the limited storage budget increases for IT departments, currently averaging in the low single-digits.
 
It’s the classic case of having to do more with less, and more often than not, everything else becomes secondary.
 
So how do the big storage trends affect your ability to do more with less? According to a Forrester Consulting study conducted on behalf of Dell, the vast majority of IT organisations are seeking storage that is simpler to manage and uses automation to free up staff members for more strategic tasks.
 
The survey of 839 IT professionals showed that 74% of IT leaders and 66% of storage administrators believe that storing and managing data is too complex today.
 
The key findings revealed that storage is generally complex, hard to manage and expensive. Too often it is a drag on innovation. Provisioning times, cost effectiveness, accuracy of provisioning and responsiveness to business needs are the top four concerns, and organisations are willing to pay more for systems that reduce management complexity, saving them time and money in the long term.
 
The Forrester data is supported by a new survey from the Enterprise Strategy Group, which reported that 42% of respondents to its annual spending intentions survey indicated that business process improvement is the most important consideration for justifying IT purchases.
 
For these reasons, storage vendors are placing a greater focus on automation and easier-to-manage storage environments to not only reduce storage complexity, but reduce costs as well.
 
The KSS principle: Keep storage simple(r)Example innovations include automated tiering, snapshots, virtual server and desktop integration/ optimisation, and deduplication and compression as ways to apply additional under-the-covers automation to reduce overall costs.
 
Automated tiering helps customers manage data when and where they need it, and in the most cost-effective storage tier.
 
According to Forrester, many organisations buy storage that’s capable of more performance than they can ever consume because they aren’t confident in their ability to measure and configure precise real-time demand for performance.
 
Storage systems with automated tiering allow users to let the system determine the optimal tier for data workloads; over time, it will allow data to gravitate toward the media choice that best fits its actual needs and budget considerations.
 
Both as part or all of a storage array, in the server, or some combination of these, flash and other solid-state storage have been gathering momentum quickly as demand for faster response times increases and costs decrease.
 
The number and type of these solutions will continue to expand as the technology gains broader acceptance, and we see value in flash technology in both external storage arrays and at the server-side, where flash cache can help reduce latency for key applications.
 
As traditional server and storage lines blur, there’s an opportunity to apply automated tiering to server-side flash cache as part of a broader storage infrastructure with flash and various spinning disk types.
 
Users can get the best of both worlds by placing data in server-side flash for some blocks while placing other blocks on the back-end storage system, either on SSD (solid-state drive) or rotating-disk drives.
 
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