Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Aruna Ravichandran

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Article

Breaking the Storage Array Lifecycle

Cloud storage appliances can grow to a virtually unlimited storage capacity without the need to ever upgrade

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 [1], 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 [2]
  • 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.

References

  1. IDC: Unstructured data will become the primary task for storage
  2. Hitachi Data Systems: Reducing Costs and Risks for Data Migrations

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.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
Though cloud is the future of enterprise computing, a smooth transition of legacy applications and systems is critical for seamless business operations. IT professionals are eager to start leveraging the cost, scale and other benefits of cloud, but with massive investments already in place in existing infrastructure and a number of compliance and resource hurdles, it can be challenging to move to a cloud-based infrastructure.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere Systems was created by file systems experts determined to reinvent storage by changing the way enterprises thought about and bought storage resources. With decades of experience behind the company’s founders, Avere got its ...
Amazon is pursuing new markets and disrupting industries at an incredible pace. Almost every industry seems to be in its crosshairs. Companies and industries that once thought they were safe are now worried about being “Amazoned.”. The new watch word should be “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his session 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Kocher, a co-founder of Grey Heron, will address questions such as: What new areas is Amazon disrupting? How are they doing this? Where are they likely to go? What are th...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SkyScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SkyScale is a world-class provider of cloud-based, ultra-fast multi-GPU hardware platforms for lease to customers desiring the fastest performance available as a service anywhere in the world. SkyScale builds, configures, and manages dedicated systems strategically located in maximum-security...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
First generation hyperconverged solutions have taken the data center by storm, rapidly proliferating in pockets everywhere to provide further consolidation of floor space and workloads. These first generation solutions are not without challenges, however. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Wes Talbert, a Principal Architect and results-driven enterprise sales leader at NetApp, will discuss how the HCI solution of tomorrow will integrate with the public cloud to deliver a quality hybrid cloud e...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...