How to pick the best data storage option for your organization

An enterprise's storage systems must have the capacity to accommodate the amount of data generated by its users and applications, but IT leaders need to avoid acquiring much more capacity than necessary.

Jeff Rowe | Apr 14, 2018 11:40 am

Conceptually, storage infrastructure management is pretty straightforward. IT professionals use a combination of hardware tools and processes to ensure the timely delivery of data to end users, applications servers and other IT systems in accordance with an organization's objectives and policies, along with making certain that data is stored appropriately along the way.

That’s one of the more succinct summaries of an IT professional’s job, and it comes from tech writer Pedro Hernandez in a recent overview of the storage options available to enterprise data managers.  

Hernandez looks at storage from a variety of angles, including capacity, availability and performance, all of which leads him to a discussion of various potential systems architecture.

Among the options, of course, are all-flash and hybrid-flash storage systems 

Adding SSDs and other types of speedy flash storage devices to arrays is becoming an increasingly popular way of improving storage performance for databases and applications, he observes. “They typically serve as a higher storage tier, given their expense and the relatively high level of performance they deliver. As the term suggests, all-flash arrays are completely decked out in flash storage. Hybrid-flash systems employ a mix of flash storage and traditional hard drives, blending the performance of SSDs with the comparatively lower cost and higher capacity of HDDs.”

Each type of data storage system or medium has its own price, capacity and performance characteristics.

The advantages of storage tiering is another key part of Hernandez’s review. 

“Placing rarely-accessed archival files and other low-value data on an expensive and high-performance all-flash array makes as little sense as using cheap-but-slow tape for an organization's day-to-day storage requirements,” he points out, adding, “This is where storage tiering comes in.”

Organizations often rely on hierarchical storage management or automated tiered storage capabilities to automatically place data on an appropriate storage tier according to policies that reflect an enterprise's application performance objectives and other factors.

“Typically, as data ages, it is moved from expensive, Tier 1 storage arrays used for mission-critical workloads down to other tiers composed of less expensive and lower-performance storage media such as tape,” Hernandez explains.

Other technological tools he discusses include NVMe, predictive storage analytics and RAID, an acronym for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, which is a technology “that allows for the same data to be distributed across multiple drives, which appear as a single logical drive.”

The bottom line for Hernandez is that enterprise storage environments continue to evolve, which means that storage hardware systems need to evolve along with them.

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