The Advantages of a Diverse Storage Architecture

In the last three blogs, we’ve looked at how IT might consolidate storage by purchasing a single large array and using software-defined storage or using hyper-converged infrastructure. While each option has potential, each option also falls short in some areas. Instead of trying to consolidate storage assets or even storage management, organizations may want to consider only consolidating the monitoring of their storage architectures, enabling diverse storage architecture to be managed effectively.

A diverse storage infrastructure is one that consists of storage hardware and software from several vendors instead of just one. Diverse storage architectures have very specific advantages versus consolidated storage architectures, but of course they also have a management inefficiency concern. If the management concern is addressed, then organizations can realize all the benefits of diverse storage architecture.

Diverse Storage Infrastructure Benefits

A diverse storage infrastructure is task- or workload-specific. The storage system is bought to address the unique needs of the workload attaching to it. IT can essentially ignore other workloads’ requirements. Buying a workload-specific storage system is often less expensive than buying a storage system that must deliver varying degrees of performance to a variety of workloads.

The software that comes with each storage system is also specifically optimized for that storage system. It is best suited to take full advantage of that system’s capabilities. An outside software package, like an SDS solution, may not be able to fully exploit the storage system’s capabilities.

In addition, with a diverse storage infrastructure, there is less concern about noisy neighbors. While the organization may place multiple workloads on a few storage systems, it’s unlikely, in a diverse storage infrastructure, that they will put ALL workloads on a single system as they would most certainly do in a consolidated infrastructure.

A diverse storage infrastructure makes it easier to assign storage infrastructure costs to a specific project or department, since more than likely only that department is using the storage system. In a purely consolidated architecture, all resources are shared, so cost allocation is more difficult to determine.

Finally, most data centers already have a diverse storage infrastructure. Storage Switzerland finds that the typical data center has storage systems from at least five separate vendors. A consolidation effort means the organization has to migrate all of the data from its distributed storage architecture, which is time-consuming. When a new workload comes online in a diverse storage infrastructure, IT has the flexibility to either add that workload to an existing storage system or purchase a new system for that workload. Even if a new system is purchased, the cost is incremental instead of a complete replacement.

While a diverse architecture has plenty of advantages, it also has one significant disadvantage: the management of all these separate systems. In our final blog, we discuss how to overcome the problems managing diverse storage architecture so that the organization can realize the best of both worlds to have a diverse architecture that meets the specific needs of workloads and helps enable IT to manage that architecture efficiently.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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