|By Nicos Vekiarides||
|October 3, 2011 11:45 AM EDT||
Anyone who purchases storage arrays is familiar with the many advantages of modular storage systems and storage area networks. However, they may also be familiar with one of the less desirable attributes of storage arrays: the typical three- to five-year lifecycle that forces decommissions and mandates upgrades on a regular basis. With many organizations expanding their need for storage by 20-60% on an annual basis , outgrowing capacity of existing storage arrays is a regular occurrence, effectively rendering upgrade cycles to be a fact of life.
Although decommissioning and upgrading a storage array may not appear all that daunting, the process includes a number of cumbersome aspects:
- The migration process from old to new storage arrays could last months, creating an overlap when both the old and a new storage array must be maintained. In some enterprise environments, the migration can cost thousands of dollars per Terabyte 
- When purchasing a new storage array, its sizing is based on anticipated future growth, resulting in an initial capacity "over-purchase" and an underutilized storage array for most of its life cycle. Result? Pre-payment for capacity that may not be needed over the next two years
- Software and architectural changes associated with each storage array upgrade may compromise stability or, at a minimum, require staff retraining on new policies and features
The Economics of Storage Array Replacement
Why decommission arrays at all? Why not simply expand storage capacity by adding new storage arrays instead of replacing them? With storage densities and capacities growing every year and cost per gigabyte dropping, the economics provide the answer.
Consider a three-year-old, 10TB storage array that costs $50,000 to purchase and has a total annual maintenance cost (vendor maintenance fee, administration, floor space, power, cooling, etc.) of $25,000 per year. Now let's say today the IT manager purchases a new 25TB storage array for $50,000. Thanks to improved storage density, it may carry the same total annual maintenance cost of $25K per year.
If the manager chooses to keep both arrays active, he would now have data residing on the old storage array at $2.50/GB in annual maintenance cost and data residing on the new storage array at only $1/GB in annual maintenance cost (with plenty of capacity to spare). This economic inefficiency makes a pretty strong business case for decommissioning the old array and moving all data to the new array as quickly as possible.
Is there any hope of breaking this storage array cycle?
There is hope with on-demand cloud storage. Cloud storage substantially changes the economics and deployment of data storage and makes some of the aspects of the storage array life cycle start to disappear entirely.
- The pay-as you-go cloud model eliminates the need to pre-purchase or over-purchase capacity
- Cost per GB drops over time as cloud providers continue to lower costs every 6-12 months
- Storage capacity is virtually limitless, so there is never a need to decommission or upgrade any hardware
The area chart below 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 green 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 three years, you can easily spot the inefficiencies of traditional storage, which requires pre-payment for unused capacity.
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 be enough to convince most organizations that it is time to introduce cloud storage into their existing IT infrastructure, however, when it comes to deploying a cloud storage strategy, many companies don't know where or how to begin.
Introducing Cloud Storage into the Organization: A Hybrid Approach
Replacing traditional storage with cloud storage will break the traditional storage array life cycle, but a complete "forklift" replacement may be overkill. 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.
A more conservative approach might be to identify data suitable for cloud storage such as secondary copies, backups, off-site data and/or archives. Interestingly, archives are often stored on traditional onsite storage to make them easily accessible to meet compliance requirements. By some reports, like the one below from ESG, the growth rate for archive data is expected to grow approximately 56% per year.
With literally hundreds of thousands of petabytes of archives to store over the next few years, the benefits of offloading archives or infrequently accessed data from traditional storage are numerous. In fact, transitioning this data to cloud storage can extend the traditional life cycle of storage arrays beyond the typical 3-5 year time frame. Imagine a 6-10 year storage array life cycle instead. That would result in a reduction of capital investment in storage infrastructure by half and introduce a significantly more efficient just-in-time, pay-as-you-go model.
How can businesses leverage tiers of cloud storage in a manner that integrates seamlessly into an existing storage infrastructure?
Connecting the Storage Infrastructure to the Cloud
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 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.
In combination with a cloud storage gateway or appliance, businesses should also consider storage tiering software. Auto-tiering software can be found in storage virtualization solutions, data classification solutions, and even in some hypervisor solutions. Businesses that choose an auto-tiering framework can immediately begin to extend the life cycle of their existing storage arrays and leverage the benefits of cloud storage by selectively offloading infrequently used data.
ScriptRock makes GuardRail, a DevOps-ready platform for configuration monitoring. Realizing we were spending way too much time digging up, cataloguing, and tracking machine configurations, we began writing our own scripts and tools to handle what is normally an enormous chore. Then we took the concept a step further, giving it a beautiful interface and making it simple enough for our bosses to understand. We named it GuardRail after its function - to allow businesses to move fast and stay sa...
Dec. 22, 2014 02:30 PM EST Reads: 1,599
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudian, Inc., is a Foster City, California - based software company specializing in cloud storage software. The main product is Cloudian, an Amazon S3-compliant cloud object storage platform, the bedrock of cloud computing systems, that enables c...
Dec. 22, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 968
SYS-CON Media announced today that Sematext launched a popular blog feed on DevOps Journal with over 6,000 story reads over the weekend. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting an...
Dec. 22, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,512
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
Dec. 22, 2014 11:15 AM EST Reads: 2,804
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
Dec. 22, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 3,015
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
Dec. 22, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,184
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
Dec. 22, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,072
In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally. DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.
Dec. 21, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,554
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 21, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 2,776
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
Dec. 21, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 3,140
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 21, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 2,648
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Dec. 21, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 3,181
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
Dec. 21, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,675
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada...
Dec. 21, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,769
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
Dec. 21, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,829
SYS-CON Events announced today that AIC, a leading provider of OEM/ODM server and storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AIC is a leading provider of both standard OTS, off-the-shelf, and OEM/ODM server and storage solutions. With expert in-house design capabilities, validation, manufacturing and production, AIC's broad selection of products are highly flexible and are conf...
Dec. 21, 2014 06:30 AM EST Reads: 2,642
AppZero has announced that its award-winning application migration software is now fully qualified within the Microsoft Azure Certified program. AppZero has undergone extensive technical evaluation with Microsoft Corp., earning its designation as Microsoft Azure Certified. As a result of AppZero's work with Microsoft, customers are able to easily find, purchase and deploy AppZero from the Azure Marketplace. With just a few clicks, users have an Azure-based solution for moving applications to the...
Dec. 20, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,736
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 20, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 2,326
The cloud is becoming the de-facto way for enterprises to leverage common infrastructure while innovating and one of the biggest obstacles facing public cloud computing is security. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jeff Aliber, a global marketing executive at Verizon, discussed how the best place for web security is in the cloud. Benefits include: Functions as the first layer of defense Easy operation –CNAME change Implement an integrated solution Best architecture for addressing network-l...
Dec. 20, 2014 05:00 AM EST Reads: 2,178