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Breaking the Storage Array Life Cycle with Cloud Storage: Part II

Cloud storage appliances can grow to a virtually unlimited storage capacity

Part I of this series examined the typical storage array life cycle and its associated capital and administrative costs. It concluded by introducing cloud storage as a compelling alternative. This second installment elaborates on how cloud storage can break the storage array life cycle from an economic and deployment perspective, freeing organizations from the cumbersome administration and high costs of traditional storage.

As mentioned in Part I, traditional data storage deployments typically require new storage array purchases every 3 to 5 years and also require the decommission of old storage arrays at the same time. The area chart below graphically illustrates some of the economic inefficiencies of this deployment model. While most organizations consume storage at a near linear rate over time, the required initial pre-purchase of capacity results in a relatively disproportionate up-front investment. The blue area on the chart shows how total cost of ownership (TCO) increases over time with traditional storage deployment – note the spikes at every purchase cycle (Q1 Y1 & Q1 Y4). The yellow bars on the chart illustrate how TCO increases with a pay-as-you-go cloud storage model. Even in this simplistic case where the TCO of both models is identical after 3 years, you can easily spot the inefficiencies of traditional storage which requires pre-payment for unused capacity.

TCO of traditional 3-yr life cycle versus pay-as-you-go cloud storage

Now keep in mind, this is a very basic analysis. In practice, there are many additional costs that factor into traditional storage deployments including:

  • administrative costs of the migrations from old arrays to a new arrays
  • potential overlap where both arrays must be maintained simultaneously
  • potential downtime and productivity loss during the migration process

Furthermore, the analysis does not capture some of the additional cost savings of cloud storage that include:

  • economies of scale in pricing and administration as a result of leveraging large multi-tenant cloud environments
  • price per GB erosion over time

Factoring these additional costs of traditional storage and additional savings of cloud storage may convince you that it is time to introduce cloud storage into your existing IT infrastructure. But where do you begin?

Given most storage consumed by businesses is either block-based or NAS-based, an on-premise cloud storage appliance or gateway that converts cloud storage to a block or NAS protocol can greatly simplify deployment. When choosing a solution, keep in mind that, unlike NAS, block-based solutions have the advantage of supporting both block-based access and any file system protocol. Block-based iSCSI solutions, such as CloudArray, support Petabytes of storage and provide thin-provisioning, caching, encryption, compression, deduplication and snapshots, matching feature sets of sophisticated SAN storage arrays. These solutions can readily reside alongside existing SANs and are available in both software and hardware form factors.

Cloud storage appliances can grow to a virtually unlimited storage capacity without the need to ever upgrade, eliminating many administrative burdens and risks of the storage array life cycle. Since cloud storage is pay-as-you-go, cost adjustments occur automatically, eliminating the economic inefficiencies of the storage array life cycle.

While cloud storage may not necessarily meet all on-premise storage needs, it can still augment existing storage infrastructure. A hybrid local-cloud storage environment can streamline storage operations and can even extend the life cycle of traditional storage through selective data offload.

Want to learn more about efficient hybrid storage environments? Look for Part III of this series where we examine how to enhance storage infrastructure using a combination of on-premise and cloud storage.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Nicos Vekiarides

Nicos Vekiarides is the Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of TwinStrata. He has spent over 20 years in enterprise data storage, both as a business manager and as an entrepreneur and founder in startup companies.

Prior to TwinStrata, he served as VP of Product Strategy and Technology at Incipient, Inc., where he helped deliver the industry's first storage virtualization solution embedded in a switch. Prior to Incipient, he was General Manager of the storage virtualization business at Hewlett-Packard. Vekiarides came to HP with the acquisition of StorageApps where he was the founding VP of Engineering. At StorageApps, he built a team that brought to market the industry's first storage virtualization appliance. Prior to StorageApps, he spent a number of years in the data storage industry working at Sun Microsystems and Encore Computer. At Encore, he architected and delivered Encore Computer's SP data replication products that were a key factor in the acquisition of Encore's storage division by Sun Microsystems.

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