Choosing the right storage solution: What you need to know

Data storage is one of the fundamental building blocks within an IT infrastructure, so how do you keep up with data growth while adding value to the business rather than cost and risk?

The amount of data being stored is growing exponentially. IDC estimates the size of the "digital universe" will grow to 35 zetabytes (ZB) by 2020, up from 4ZB in 2013.  This is almost 50 per cent more data than 2012 volumes. For most companies data is essentially doubling every two years. The speed at which data can be stored, retrieved, used and protected has a massive impact on an enterprise’s IT service, and, indeed, is a major factor for the overall success of the enterprise.

Companies are looking for ways to keep up with rapid data growth and manage it in a way that adds value to the business rather than increasing risk and cost.

The answer to this problem lies with the choosing and deploying the right storage solution. Driven by new innovations and the continuing growth of big data, cloud and mobility, storage has become one of the fundamental building blocks within an IT infrastructure. In many cases, the performance and efficiency of a company’s storage systems either enables or hinders the value an application or cloud service can bring to an enterprise.

The blame game

When the IT Director wants to know why critical databases aren’t performing optimally, or when the CIO wants to know why the cost of database management is still sky-high, or the CEO wants to know why the launch date of an important new product was delayed, the answer will in some way place the blame on storage. 

Why?  There are a number of reasons. 

Traditional storage solutions typically address different applications’ data needs by having dedicated storage for each application, resulting in a multitude of data silos. As these are purchased, deployed and maintained separately in order to meet performance requirements, time to value is slowed and minimised because capacity is being used inefficiently.  

Management cost can also become an issue. This is particularly true if there are multiple devices from different vendors within the storage ecosystem requiring different management tools and staff expertise.

Moreover, IT organisations typically purchase storage based on past experience—decisions largely driven by capacity requirements, with performance as an afterthought. The challenge is that growth in data capacity, variety, and application-driven storage performance requirements are wildly unpredictable.  These factors create challenges for determining when existing storage will pass a certain capacity threshold and begin to affect performance, or whether a new application is going to trigger spikes in usage that impose greater demands on storage resources.  

The solution is usually to over-provision to ensure applications don’t run out of storage capacity and performance remains acceptable.

Best-of-breed to the rescue

With those problems in mind, IT leaders are looking for best-of-breed storage technologies engineered to run applications faster and more efficiently, increase business and IT productivity, save valuable resources and reduce risk and cost.

Recent advancements in technology are now powering storage systems designed to deliver these benefits and enable enterprises to:

  • Accelerate business applications and increase user productivity
  • Address larger user populations
  • Protect increasing amounts of enterprise data
  • Replace more costly and complex storage infrastructures
  • Retain data to meet long-term compliance requirements
  • Deploy cost-effective storage solutions that have ample room to grow

To gain superior performance, businesses are turning to new and innovative solutions that best match the storage device to the needs of the application throughout the information lifecycle. 

Storage solutions are becoming available that are co-engineered to work better with certain software, for optimal performance. This innovation helps offer a more efficient, high performance platform that to enable companies get the most out of their database deployments, and help them leverage resources so they can extract the very best value from their hardware purchases, while lowering overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

In addition, new compression technologies can also hybrid columnar compression help companies reduce their storage by as much as 90 percent leading to considerable savings, including datacentre infrastructure, cooling, switches, conduit, cables, racks, floor space, and maintenance. Moreover, the latest compression technologies can deliver a 4x increase in space efficiency for better caching of critical data and write performance enhancements that deliver a consistent low-latency response time. As a result, businesses can reduce the total amount of storage needed, maximise the utilisation of current storage, and better use the right tier and combination of storage to improve their existing database system and application performance, while reducing cost and risk.

Modern storage innovations enable companies to keep up with data growth while adding value to the business rather than cost and risk. These innovations are enabling enterprises to address the immediate challenge of increasing storage performance while managing storage in a way that significantly improves operational efficiencies. By reducing administrative time and datacentre expenses, and, at the same time, increasing business application performance, modern storage solutions accelerate time to insight and mitigate business risks.

These new storage systems also deliver extreme storage performance as organisations move to a future of more consolidated, virtualisation-driven private cloud environments.

Sam Voukenas is the storage product director at Oracle Australia and New Zealand