Your new array isn't better than my old array

After my latest post I saw an interesting piece from storagebod. This was just a contribution to a discussion started some days ago about space guarantee programs: marketing campaigns to lure customer to change their old storage for a brand spanking new one with the promise of better efficiency.

I disagree with the assertion: “Your new array is better than my old array!”, I wrote this article to point out my personal vision about the difference between Old and Next generation architectures:

If your old storage is an old generation storage now you have two options:

  1. buy a new old generation storage and you will get, probably, better performace because the storage system is updated with the latest disks, connections, CPUs and so on but not a better storage efficiency.
  2. buy a new next generation storage and you will get better performance and storage efficiency due to a new way of thinking the storage with new innovative architectures (hardware and software).

About a new old generation storage

Let me get a look at the last three generations of a midrange modular storage from a primary vendor (discalimer: I choose HDS only because it was the first to come to my mind but you will find similar or worse results for each Tier 1 vendor! try yourself with your favourite one. ). You will find here, here and here three white papers describing the architecture of their last three generations midrange models (9570v, AMS 200 and AMS 2100). After reading you will find that they are pretty the same!!!! Yes, there is an evolution in terms of CPUs, cache sizes, connections and drives speed/capacity. Indeed, it’s not an evolution but its only an update of an original design!

BTW, In these days I’m dealing with a potential new customer, he told me about his disappointment about the actual vendor proposition because nothing is changed since an offer made 5 years ago! Ouch!

Furthermore, software architecture is, often, obsolete and every new feature seems to be a patch applied on top and every new feature/patch end up adding new limits and costraints to others features. An example? In order to get modern and foundation capabilities for virtualized environments, such as wide striping and thin provisioning, you need to buy them as an option but then you will not be able to replicate data or take snapshots or whatever else (it depends by the vendor). The list of limitations and costraints can be very long and sometimes you need costly professional services to walk around obstacles!!!
The final result is simple: you will not buy, or worse, you will buy but won’t use, software features to achieve a better storage efficiency.

This is what I mean old generation storage!

About a new next generation storage

In the last years were born a bounch of new storage companies that think in a different way. Most of them are small but some are becoming very big and others are growing very fast. They have rethinked from start how to manage data, disks, connections, provisioning, virtualization, automation and so on. In few words: they have redesigned whole new arhitectures!

The big difference, often, is not in the hardware, most of them are using standard x86 based stuff because it is cheap and powerful, the real pluses lie the software capabilities.

Next generation storage vendors are promising new functionalities, well integrated, helping better manage tons and different kinds of growing data with less resources because their hardware/software architectures are conceived for this century and not based on old RAID definitions.

The managed TBs amount per storage administrator are growing year over year exponentially and it’s very important to rethink how to deal with: good management and processes are no more enough and some useful help comes from new virtualization technologies, automation capabilities and quality/integration of implementations. Each disk and hour of work saved the customer is helpful to achieve the result of a smarter, greener and savvy storage infrastructure!

When you buy a new storage it’s hard to foresee what will happen after years (from the same blog cited above: If I knew what I know now, I would have done things differently! ), but if you have a well architected next generation storage you’ll probably have better tools to react to changing needs!

Conclusions (from a – biased – Next generation storage reseller point of view)

Propose Next generation storage systems is more difficult than selling Old generation ones because the approach is slightly different. Probably this is the main reason why we see campaigns like the space guarantee programs: customers need to digest new technolgies, you need to convince them about new aproaches at their storage problems and only provocations such these can show better the difference between old-gen and next-gen!


HANDS-ON TECHNOLOGY DAY (18 febbraio 2010):

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