Storage Performance - The Next Transformative Stage
The storage landscape has gone through a number of transformative stages in the last two decades. EMC and NetApp emerged in the first stage, challenging the status quo and essentially creating the storage networking industry. They made storage that was less expensive and relatively easier to manage, and delivered intelligence to protect and manage data. The second stage saw innovators such as 3Par, Compellent, Data Domain, EqualLogic, and Isilon, all with unique architectures and technologies that, among this very diverse group, delivered far easier management, incredible scalability, capacity optimization, and intelligent tiering.
These two stages were good for customers (i.e., the end-users of these products and solutions). Innovation and competition drove down pricing and created a wide range of features for greater performance, ease of management, scalability, reliability, recoverability, infrastructure optimization, and more.
We are now at the threshold of a third transformative stage of the evolution of storage, one that is focusing very heavily on performance.
Performance Isn’t Everything!
While this next stage of storage is focused on providing transparent and cost effective performance, all of the other capabilities introduced in the previous transformative stages are also requisite. NAS and SAN support, data protection, replication, capacity optimization, highly virtualized storage, and a bevy of data management software features and capabilties combined with performance also define this next stage because each stage is progressive and all technological advances must be integrated if end-users are to achieve maximum value.
Performance For Everyone
You can debate the merits of performance, but the bottom line is that worrying about it should just be taken off the table. Once upon a time, storage was complex, unreliable, inefficient, hard to scale, and expensive—and all of those issues have been addressed. It is now time to remove performance as a challenge and add it to that list of storage issues that no one ever has to think about again.
There are studies that show that only between five and ten percent of all I/Os require high performance using some flash-based technology. But which five to ten percent? When do they need that higher performance? And if that small percentage of I/Os is vying for resources that other less performance-driven I/Os are consuming, will that impact the business? This is why performance should be a requisite just like ease of use, scalability, reliability, and other storage system features. This is why performance is so critical.
If you have an unlimited budget, than performance has always been in your grasp. But, in this next transformative stage of storage, it is essential that performance is commoditized, which can be defined as “the movement of a market from differentiated to undifferentiated price competition and from monopolistic to perfect competition." - Wikipedia
This is essentially what is happening in storage: performance is being addressed within different layers and offerings in the marketplace. And, over time, the preferred methods and solutions will become the mainstays in every data center. We are at the point in the process where the market is just beginning to shake out the winners and the losers. What will eventually emerge are performance solutions priced for consumption by nearly everyone, regardless of their IT budgets.
The reason there is so much attention focused on storage performance right now is that we are at the threshold of delivering the technology at a cost point that enables us to remove performance as an issue for everyone, in every environment, and for every application to ensure that no one ever has to think about performance again. This will impact profitability, user satisfaction, and operational efficiency.
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