Storage was actually simple, before disk-to-disk backup came along and started spoiling the party. Now we need a storage magician to take the horror out of the storage horror show. Basically there were monolithic arrays at the high-end, dual controller arrays in the middle, and JBOD variations at the bottom; all disk drive …
can still be simple
As simple as you want it to be....it only gets complicated if you make it complicated.
I know one really big customer that for some reason is deploying 3PAR storage as a Commvault backup target (?!?!@!$#@ what? do they not know that HP has StoreOnce ?) and they use HP P9500 for their tier 1, but they don't use any snapshots(too complicated for charge back apparently).
Storage has been complicated for a while, I think back to my early days with thin provisioning on 3PAR with the company saying "oh go throw out your volume managers!" -- and learning the hard way long before thin reclamation was possible to do data migrations to reclaim space from apps that aren't efficient. Or the days where you had active/passive controllers on your array and you had to worry about shit like "LUN tresspassing", or some crappy storage systems where performance went in the tank once you started turning on some of the features(still quite common today I hear).
Perhaps storage is getting SIMPLER - by having more silos, at least for larger orgs (not me) - having more single/special purpose systems(unix way of "do one thing and do it well") instead of systems that try to be everything(and do so poorly).
the death of simplicity
This rings very true Chris. At the core of the issue is the marketing of complexiry and an ecosystem of IT admins who embrace it. The irony is that amidst the miriad of storage offerings customers often do not have the time or money to deploy the complexity they purchased.
I lay part of the blame at EMC's feet ;-) But seriously, the article is spot on. Storage has become nothing but more complex. While everything else seems to be getting simpler (dumb hardware and smart abstraction) storage seems to be going the other direction UNLESS you are big enough to write your own storage layer. CloudStack here I come!
Who's to blame?
I have worked for several storage vendors and the complexity is mostly driven by the market.
Vendors would like nothing more than to sack half their coders and just fight over a few feature flaws of there competitors and price, but in reality, the latest and greatest is a necessity for most offerings.
It is by no means a myth that most vendors add a feature or spruce up their software logic to compete with the offering their competition has just announced, but why are they doing this? Because when a vendor is given a tender they are often judged on what they can offer over the next man, sometimes being closed out at the first stages of the game because the array doesn't offer Quasi Systematic Flash Auto Splice Tiering :-)
I like the days of create a RAID group and assign a LUN; it was easy with a modicum of storage magic to get it working and keep it working properly. Now you need to know the fundamental workings of the OS of choice intertwined with the kernel know how of the hyper-visor of choice to deliver maximum IO and lowest latency for minimal TCO.
If you're not autotiering your cloud with 17 layers of flash architecture then who are you? :-)
Everything is more complex Chris
Interesting perspective, but why pick storage as the complexity poster child? I remember when I could adjust the valves and points on my '63 VW bug, Then along came electronic ignition, fuel injection, and onboard computers. I didn't ask for any of those things and I surely can't work on my car anymore but I must admit despite this complexity cars seem to run a lot better and last a whole lot longer than they used to.
Yes storage was easy back when you had some bus & tag cables connected to a few disks on an IBM 360, but as I recall you were maxed out at 32 drives, or about 10GB. Then along came MS Office, Oracle, and oh yeah the interent and suddenly everything got more complicated.
Not sure I'd call it a horror show but its true storage complexity is part of keeping up with the pace of data growth and diversity, whether its in your data center or somebody else's in the cloud. So just as you need a good mechanic with sophisticated diagnostics to work on your car, you'll need a good IT storage architect to sort through all the options and design a proper data storage network.
Although there is a plethora of storage technologies one can chose from, the real trick (no magician necessary) is to have a well thought out long term storage strategy….but this seems impossible at first glance. So here are my tips on how to do this successfully:
1) Don’t allow your storage environment to become disparate and unmanageable with the newest technologies for the sake of technology
2) Avoid storage systems that only provides Short Term Gains and Long Term “Owes”
3) Base your strategy that actually meets your business requirements now and in the future (and don’t get hung up on which technology that takes you to)
4) KISS (Keep It Simple) I’ll leave off “Stupid” for now - is the best approach in my opinion and don’t try and keep up with the “Jones” – The temptation to deploy the next new Whiz Bang technology is great but may have little or no real benefit to your organization. And it can be even more damaging and costly if you end up using technology for things it wasn’t intended for (like trying to use disk intended as a primary storage tier for a second copy, or cold storage)
5) Think “Long Term” - Choosing Storage Systems that can withstand the test of time (well at least 5 – 7 years) would be a great start especially when backing up or archiving data.
6) Investigate and deploy Active Archives (Data Management) and Cloud Solutions “Private of Course” for Long Term unstructured data. This is the least expensive way of storing long term data for pennies on the dollar and simplifying your storage environment. In Addition, today's active archive platforms can bring disparate storage systems under one data management system and when that next vetted technology does come along it will migrate your data to the new platform.
Steven Ramos, Snr.Systems Engineer at Spectra Logic (www.spectralogic.com)
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