For the first time, IT professionals can see the ROI of storage efficiency thanks to StorONE’s TRUprice. The number one question we get when people try out TRUprice is how StorONE can sell enterprise-class storage solutions so inexpensively? We are, after all, using server hardware and media from leading manufacturers. The answer is we create better storage software that is more efficient in how it uses the resources provided to it. Storage efficiency increases storage ROI by lowering costs throughout the storage infrastructure.
As George Crump covered on a recent blog “Storage Price Check” there are many components within a storage infrastructure. Inefficient storage software forces IT to spend more on each component making it take too long to see a return on investment (ROI). Storage efficiency increases storage ROI by making sure that every component is working to its full potential and eliminating the need to overbuy on storage hardware.
ROI of Storage Efficiency #1 – Lower Server Costs
All enterprise storage systems run on industry-standard servers. Some vendors may have these servers custom-built for them, but the internals of server hardware is fundamentally the same. To get maximum performance, many vendors need to use the newest and most powerful servers on the market to keep pace with the ever-accelerating performance of storage media. Every time a vendor claims to have improved performance, it almost always coincides with a server hardware upgrade, not just an update in storage media. This constant need to upgrade the storage server to meet new performance requirements is why the cost of enterprise storage isn’t coming down.
Efficient storage software, like StorONE’s S1 Enterprise Storage Platform, can deliver maximum performance from the media provided to it while using minimal server hardware. We can produce hundreds of thousands of IOPS from servers that are one or two years old. The screenshot is my technical account manager’s demonstration system. It has only five SAS SSDs, and the server is at least two years old. You can see from the screenshot that it is delivering over 180,000 IOPS from just five SAS SSDs!
Another key advantage of efficient storage software’s ability to get so much performance out of midrange servers is a much less frequent need to upgrade. Our customers can drive next generation media without needing to upgrade servers. They just install the newer, faster media or networking and they instantly receive the benefits.
Lower server costs are the first way that storage efficiency increases storage ROI, but it is not the only way.
ROI of Storage Efficiency #2 – No Cache!
Most storage systems use some form of a RAM cache to accelerate performance. The cache is typically either mirrored RAM or non-volatile RAM like MRAM or NVDIMM. Both of these techniques add complexity to the storage system and add cost.
Mirrored RAM, by its very nature, requires an HA configuration in all circumstances. It also makes creating an active-active cluster much more difficult since the software now needs to manage issues like cache coherence and, on failure, split-brain. To be effective, storage vendors typically configure their storage systems with 256GB plus of cache, and 1TB configurations are not uncommon. The problem is the cost of DRAM is still quite high, and these large capacities of RAM add to the storage server cost. Remember that an HA configuration doubles these high RAM investments.
Non-volatile RAM eliminates the need to perform mirrored RAM since it is non-volatile. The problem is that it is typically not as high performing as traditional RAM, and it is costly. The expense of non-volatile RAM forces vendors to use a relatively small cache, which isn’t as effective as a large RAM pool.
StorONE uses its DirectWrite technology to avoid using a cache altogether. DirectWrite, as the name implies, writes directly to media, meaning that there is no risk of data loss because of power or hardware failure. It also means that StorONE’s memory requirements are meager, 128GB is suitable for most use cases. DirectWrite is another way storage efficiency increases storage ROI. To learn more about DirectWrite check out our blog “The Write Cache Crutch”
ROI of Storage Efficiency #3 – Use Standard Storage Protocols
NVMe is an important emerging drive interconnect, but SAS has a lot of mileage in the tank and it is less expensive. Ironically most storage systems that support NVMe drives only see a marginal gain in performance. The reason for this small gain is, once again, the storage software. If the storage software can’t push SAS technology to its limits, what chance does it have to do the same for NVMe drives? ZERO!
In most cases, storage vendors simultaneously deliver NVMe support with the introduction of a new, more powerful server because faster networking exposes their software inefficiencies in the same way as faster media.
StorONE’s S1 fully supports NVMe but also delivers very high performance from SAS connected drives and standard server network connections (Fibre and Ethernet). If a SAS-connected set of SSDs can provide more performance than the organization’s requirements for the next 3-5 years, why upgrade prematurely to more expensive NVMe. Data centers should have the choice to update only when they can take advantage of NVMe performance.
Another way storage efficiency increases storage ROI is it enables you to use the more commonly available and more cost-effective drive, and server interconnects. It also saves you the cost of having to remove the infrastructure that is performing well and is understood.
In my next blog, we will look at more of the ROI’s of Storage Efficiency like maximum per drive performance, future-proofing, and the reduction of backup and replication expenses.
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Watch the below on-demand webinar with StorONE CEO, Gal Naor, and CMO, George Crump as they discuss how we leverage our efficient storage software to develop our TRUprice enterprise storage calculator.