Practical Storage Consolidation

Practical storage consolidation is a way to deal with the daunting size and scope of the typical consolidation project. It takes a step-by-step approach instead of an all-at-once overhaul. It allows you to address the most immediate pressing storage concerns you have in the environment and gain confidence in the solution. In this way, it behaves like one of the many point solutions on the market today. What makes practical storage consolidation work is its ability to integrate additional workloads with the same controller hardware but without compromising performance or data integrity.

Practical Storage Consolidation Requires:

1. Cost-Effective per Use Case Pricing

2. Storage Resource Efficiency

3. Workload isolation

4. Future Flexibility

Cost-Effective per Use Case Pricing

Most storage consolidation solutions try to cost-justify themselves through a long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) model. Most, if not all, of these solution’s claims about TCO reduction, come in soft costs, like lowering operational costs. Vendors of these solutions do this to justify the high cost of their storage hardware and software.

Practical Storage Consolidation

Practical storage consolidation requires minimizing TCO by delivering the operational savings of traditional consolidation combined with hard-cost savings. Delivering both types of savings means that the initial and ongoing cost of the consolidated solution is less than competing single-purpose solutions. It should be so competitively priced that it can even start as a backup storage solution. Then as you gain confidence and comfort in the solution, you can add additional use cases like archive, file-serving, virtualization, databases, and even HPC.

Storage Resource Efficiency

One of the reasons for the high cost of traditional storage consolidation solutions is their lack of efficiency when using storage hardware resources. They use the old, legacy storage software stack that requires an excess of CPU, RAM, and storage media to deliver anything close to acceptable performance. The use of inefficient code also means they can’t run at high-capacity utilization levels, often less than 55%, wasting hundreds of terabytes of capacity per petabyte of storage.

Practical storage consolidation requires using all available storage resources optimally. It means delivering almost a million IOPS from a dozen or so flash drives instead of a few hundred thousand IOPS from 48. It also means running at 90% capacity utilization without impacting performance. The efficient use of resources enables you to continue adding additional workloads to the storage solution without impacting the performance of workloads already there. Achieving this level of utilization efficiency requires rewriting storage software from scratch.

Workload Isolation

Each workload or use case in the environment has unique attributes regarding its IO pattern and its performance and data protection requirements. Most consolidation solutions treat all data the same. However, not all workloads need all-flash.

Practical storage consolidation requires isolating each use case to provide its unique attributes within the same storage platform. That isolation shouldn’t also require isolating the workloads to specific drives, violating the resource efficiency requirement. The isolation should enable storage administrators to set each use case up for unique IO patterns and data protection strategies. It should also allow you to set each workload’s performance requirements so you can achieve the right balance of $ per IOPS and $ per GB.

Future Flexibility

Most storage consolidation solutions are very rigid, they can’t start small and grow, and they can’t quickly adapt new technologies into them. Storage consolidation is a long-term strategy, and its inability to be flexible stops most of these efforts in their tracks.

Practical storage consolidation should start small, so it is not only competitively priced to address the initial storage use case, but it is also appropriately sized for it. Then you should be able to add to the solution as you add additional workloads gradually. In most cases, if the solution is efficient, additions to the solution should primarily expand capacity. Occasionally you may need to add additional networking to support a new protocol. Every five years or so, you should be able to non-disruptively move to a new storage controller to support an update to motherboard bandwidth (PCIe-Gen 4). Practical storage consolidation is future proof.

A Fast Start to Storage Consolidation

Practical storage consolidation enables you to start a storage consolidation project without even admitting you are starting a storage consolidation project. If the solution meets the above requirements, you can start with a use case as simple as backup storage, which desperately needs modernization. We deliver backup storage modernization through our S1:Backup solution.

As you gain confidence in the backup storage solution and your other storage solutions reach the end of life or come off maintenance, add those use cases. Eventually, you’ll end up with a completely consolidated storage infrastructure, which was less expensive than purpose-built alternatives, now providing you with all the operational benefits of complete consolidation.

To learn more about practical storage consolidation, register for our upcoming webinar “Beyond Backup – A Commonsense Approach to Storage Consolidation.”

To learn more about how StorONE can reduce the total cost of ownership of storage infrastructure, download our white paper “The TRUE Value of Total Resource Utilization.”


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George Crump

George has over 25 years of experience in the storage industry, holding executive sales and engineer positions. Before joining StorONE, he was the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland.

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