The ROI of a Flash and Object Storage Architecture

The flash+object storage architecture creates a cost effective, two tier storage architecture in the data center. It enables IT to better meet performance demands of applications and the retention demands of unstructured data. Ideally the organization can reduce the size of their storage footprint and meet all of the organization’s various use cases with just two storage systems.

The Primary Storage ROI

The most obvious benefit of the flash+object architecture is it reduces the capacity requirements of primary storage without impacting the user experience. Under this architecture, primary storage is designed to store a year or two worth of data but not four to five, as is common in most data centers today. Since flash storage makes up a big part of most primary storage systems today, better management of this tier leads to a significant costs savings.

If the organization decides to invest in an all-flash array architecture, then the capacity of that investment is minimized. Using the deep math described in our first blog most data is adequately stored on dense SAS based flash instead of expensive NVMe flash. If the organization decides to use SAS based flash combined with hard disk drives as the second tier then the cost savings increases further.

Another savings as a result of the flash+object storage architecture is the reduction of data protection investments. If primary storage is decreased by 60% or more then the data protection software and hardware requirements see similar savings. Protecting less data increases the chances of backup success and reduces the investment in backup hardware infrastructure.

The object storage system, on a cost per GB basis, is less expensive than primary storage. These systems are also useable for more use cases other than retaining old data. For example most organizations will find them suitable for user data storage and even add enterprise file sync and share solutions to them.

Object storage systems can also act as backup storage systems with backups being directed at the object storage system instead of a dedicated backup appliance. The organization will need to select a software solution to move data from primary storage to the object store. Depending on the product selected, the object store can also fulfill data retention and data privacy requirements.

The final cost savings is in the reduction from multiple storage systems performing tasks such as primary storage, backup storage, and archive storage, to two systems. The primary storage system is fast enough to meet the needs of production applications and the object storage system is diverse enough and cost effective enough to fulfill all of the above tasks. Considering that today the typical data center has six to eight storage systems in use, reducing that number to two will save the organization in terms of administration time as well as maintenance contract management.

StorageSwiss Take

The flash+object architecture described in the last four blogs promises to greatly reduce the cost of the storage architecture while also simplifying its management. The architecture does not compromise production performance and, given the freed up capital, the organization can afford a larger flash investment. Finally, the architecture prepares the organization to manage data instead of storing data. The capability to manage data is critical in the face of regulations like GDPR and California’s Consumer Privacy Act.

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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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