The first step in the storage refresh process has nothing to do with vendors or storage systems. The first step should be to decide on the technology best suited to the workloads the storage system will host. Organizations need to decide what protocol, storage medium and storage architecture makes the most sense for their environment. They also need to determine which business model (on-premises, hybrid or cloud) best suits these workloads.
To make these decisions the organization needs to understand the workloads moving to the new storage system. Typically there is a primary motivation being driven by at least one application in particular. Most common are the workloads that need more performance or more capacity. There may also be a more widespread motivation. For example, the organization may have an initiative to drive down the cost of storage.
The nature of the motivation potentially eliminates some of the options from consideration. For example, a demand for more performance is going to lead most organizations to a flash-based storage system. But depending on the workload, the location of it (on-premises or cloud) and the protocol it runs over (iSCSI, Fibre, NAS, Object) are still open for debate. If the workload is transaction-oriented then a block-based protocol like Fibre or iSCSI probably makes more sense as does keeping the application on-premises. But it does not necessarily rule out NAS or the Cloud.
Most storage refreshes don’t involve just one workload, or even one category of workloads. Increasingly, organizations want storage systems to support a mixture of various workloads. But while most storage systems can support a mixed workload, they also tend to have a sweet spot. For example most object storage systems now also support NFS and SMB protocols and in theory could act as a file server replacement. Certainly most object storage systems are fine for home directories but asking those object storage systems to support extremely high performance file processing may be a bridge too far.
The number of options available to IT is both a good thing and a bad thing. This many options make the selection process harder but achieving a very specific storage goal more realistic. But IT has to makes its evaluation with very clear understanding of two vectors. The first is the workload itself. What are its characteristics and how do those characteristics impact other workloads when they are on the same storage system? The second vector is the storage systems themselves. How will they perform under the duress of running all of these workloads simultaneously?
Storage refreshes are challenging and risky. There are a lot of variables to consider and one mistake can cost the organization thousands, if not millions, of dollars; not to mention damage the reputation of the IT professional making the recommendation. In our on demand webinar Storage Switzerland and Virtual Instruments discuss a five step process to the perfect storage refresh.