Flash storage is fundamentally changing the data center. It is allowing databases to meet the demands of users and virtual infrastructures to achieve new levels of virtual machine (VM) density. But what comes next after flash? Is it another advancement in memory storage, or is it something else?
Certainly there is another wave of memory technologies to follow. These will provide DRAM type of durability with flash persistence. But these memory technologies, while faster, will not provide the step level jump in performance that flash brought over hard disk drive storage.
Instead, the next big thing in storage is going to be mobility.
Here is what we know. Flash is definitely going to become the dominate storage tier for all primary data. As prices continue to fall, it will also become the primary storage medium for all secondary data.
However, flash will not be able to replace high capacity disk or even tape for long term cold data storage. We also know that the primary storage tier will be made up of different types of memory based storage not just flash. In addition, primary storage will be in a different location in the data center, not all of it will be shared on a storage area network. Finally, we also know that the data center will need to use all of these different storage types and locations in order to meet an increasingly demanding set of user expectations and a continually flat IT budget.
Data Mobility – The Next Big Thing in Storage
We have spent years in storage fighting the wrong battle: trying to consolidate all of our data onto a single storage system that has to meet all of our needs. The problem is that it never does. The organization ends up with a system that is a jack of all trades but master of none. Software defined storage (SDS) was a solution to solve this problem, but it didn’t. SDS consolidated the management of storage, but still imposed data walls between actual systems.
Data mobility breaks down walls and allows data to flow between systems based on policies set by the organization. Data mobility also allows the organization to buy the best storage system available and have the data automatically flow to it as it makes sense. The result is that the organization manages data instead of managing systems.
With data mobility in place, IT can add new storage systems and then not have to do anything. As soon as a new system comes online the data mobility solution can analyze it, determine its capabilities and then place the appropriate set of data on it.
Data mobility has the potential to fundamentally change the data center, even more so than flash did. Flash’s impact was only on high performance storage, where data mobility promises to impact all tiers of storage an all types of storage. In a future entry, we will discuss data mobility’s impact on scale-out storage. After all, once you have data mobility in place, do you really need scale out storage? Why not just use multiple scale up systems and let data flow between them?