IT budgets are lean and managers are being asked to make tough decisions about where to allocate resources. Advances in technology have increased efficiencies and the move to virtualization and the cloud has fueled a new level of access and performance.
As a result, the storage infrastructure technologies have had to adapt and increase in all metrics to keep up with the rapid changes in the data center. Legacy drives require migration, storage arrays require consolidation, virtualization requires expansion, and your data requires deduplication.
Types of Architectures
The best way to decide on an upgrade path is to know the difference between architectures and their advantages and limitations.
Direct-Attached Storage (DAS):
- Directly connected to client devices through host bus adapter (HBA)
- Most commonly seen as an enclosure with multiple physical drives connected directly to individual servers or computers
- One-to-one cables plugged directly into an individual port on the enclosure
- Can serve only as many clients as the enclosure has ports
- Can be configured into RAID
- Island of Information approach limits ability to share with other devices unless manually plugged in
- Offload control and processing duties to clients’ HBA
Network-attached Storage (NAS):
- File level storage that connects to an existing network
- Purpose-built and self-contained computers specializing in file storage and sharing
- Well-suited for roles as file, email, and web servers
- Resources can be reallocated and shared to any client on the network
- Can be configured into RAID
- Performance mostly tied to network bandwidth and congestion
- Easy to setup and manage
- Treated like remote storage for clients operating systems (OS), can’t be treated as local storage
Storage Area Network:
- Dedicated network that provides block level storage
- Consolidate various storage types like disk arrays, tape libraries, and optical jukeboxes into one pool
- Can be configured as client-dedicated storage that run like local storage
- Can build file systems similar to NASs on top of them
- Centralized management without physical labor for reallocating resources
- Easily scalable
- More complicated to implement and manage
- Require more upfront cost than NAS and DAS
Now that you have a more than a general understanding on the different architectures and storage schemes, you can start to look at factors like your current utilization of storage. Can you use compression and data deduplication techniques to help free up extra space that was underutilized before? If you have a virtualized infrastructure; have you checked for ghost VMs that could be eating up system resources? These are some important considerations to look at before you decide you need an upgrade.
Once you have come to the conclusion that you do need to upgrade or expand your storage infrastructure, your next step is to look at the primary infrastructure and determine the demands on the system. Small shops that use web-based applications can probably get away with local NAS or DAS storage, where a geographically separated corporation might need to upgrade a huge SAN infrastructure with solid state drives (SSD) and SATA connections. The point is to carefully evaluate all of your organization’s needs and cater a solution to that.
Remember that you’re not locked into a single solution or architecture. Hybrid SAN/NAS systems can offer the best of both worlds in terms of features and use-cases. The downside is that they can also be difficult to implement and configure. Also consider recycling or selling your used storage hardware to further reduce the costs of implementation.
Now it’s time to start looking for a partner to help out and the request for proposal (RFP) document is your best friend once you are ready to start shopping for a solutions provider. A well-written RFP provides a tool to evaluate vendors and a guide for them to follow. Vendors know that they have to do what is in the RFP and it provides a framework for the process of choosing a partner that will meet your organizations needs. Take the RFP process seriously and put together the right team to develop the document.
The current business world runs on data. One of the largest challenges is how to align and develop an infrastructure that can store and get the data where it needs to go, when it needs to be there. Having the right storage infrastructure is critical to leveraging some of the most powerful tools in the history of industry, make sure you do it right.Tags: Cloud,Data Center,Storage,Technology