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Flash Optimised, Cloud Integrated & Multi-Protocol – the table stakes of modern storage

Categories: Cloud, Data Centre

A decade or so ago most organisations purchased SANs to meet their storage needs, which provisioned storage as LUNs, used spinning drives to provide the required capacity and performance, and integration with the cloud was nowhere to be seen.

How times have changed, flash has replaced spinning drives if any degree of performance is required, leveraging the cloud is a key part of most organisations IT strategies and the LUN is looking “a bit long in the tooth” as there are typically far better ways of provisioning storage.

Let’s quickly explore, what really should be, the table stakes for modern storage platforms:

Flash Optimised

  • 3:1 or more capacity savings from the efficiency features
  • Scaling to hundreds of thousands of IOPS
    • With consistent sub-millisecond latency
    • With Quality of Service to guarantee and limit performance
    • With double drive failure protection as standard
  • Support for the latest protocols such as NVMe
  • Support for the latest high capacity drives

Deduplication and compression are not just tick-boxes as sophisticated efficiency features are likely to achieve real-world savings of 3:1 or more, whereas lesser technologies may struggle to get above 1.5:1 – as always “the devil is in the detail”.

Cloud Integrated

  • Tier inactive data to the cloud
    • With the cloud used to replace 7.2K drives
  • Replication to the cloud
  • Backup to the cloud
    • With the cloud used to replace tape
  • System monitoring from the cloud
  • Support for all the major clouds (AWS, Azure & GCP)

Most IT departments are being tasked with leveraging the cloud more so being able to use the cloud for cold data, backup copies and disaster recovery are perfect use cases that bring together the best of on-premises technologies with the best of the cloud.

Multi-Protocol

  • SAN storage (NVMe, FC & iSCSI)
  • NAS storage (NFS & SMB)
    • With support for hypervisors such as vSphere & Hyper-V
    • With enterprise-grade Windows/Linux file services
    • With a single file system able to scale-out to PBs
  • Object storage (S3)

Buying a solution today that only supports LUNs is far from ideal, even if initially you transition your existing LUNs to the new platform and then start exploring the considerable benefits of NAS storage. You can then migrate over at your own pace and ultimately only use LUNs when they are mandated.

Conclusion

You would therefore think that all modern storage platforms would be Flash Optimised, Cloud Integrated and Multi-Protocol, but in reality this is just not the case – it’s actually quite amazing that most vendors still focus on LUNs and often have no significant integration with the cloud.

But there is one vendor who has got their act together and that is NetApp, with their ONTAP powered All-Flash FAS (AFF). The AFF can provide all of these capabilities and so much more, therefore if you are considering a new all-flash storage platform you will want to take a close look at what it has to offer.

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