Defining Your Data Storage Needs
Updated: Oct 10
As more and more enterprises incorporate advancements in automation, analytics, machine learning, and more, they discover a need for a data storage solution that can keep up. However, selecting the right data storage solution for your business requires careful consideration of many factors, most of which are unique to your business and its needs. Below are just a few items for you to consider.
Your storage system must line up with the bandwidth, latency, and availability requirements of your workloads. In other words, as you do more with your data, your performance and scale needs for your workloads will increase, which means your storage solution will need be able to keep up. You need to understand not only the amount of storage you are using currently, and, in the future, you also need to understand the performance requirements of your application(s) over time.
Regardless of how your applications access their data (via block, file, or object protocols, for example), you also need for your storage to give you the flexibility for fast, efficient snapshots and clones to support application and development workflows. You also need to think in terms of how your storage platform connects to public cloud resources. In this day and age, where cloud adoption is growing and inevitable, having a storage platform that allows you the flexibility to run in the cloud and on premises is essential.
No organization is immune to the loss of data, which is why backup and disaster recovery features are so important. In addition to snapshot, cloning, and replication technologies, leading storage solutions will integrate with major backup and data protection vendors for snapshot management, API integration for advanced functionality, and ransomware protection via immutable copies of data. Successful business recovery plans incorporate clearly defined RPO and RTO for your company, and effective storage solutions allow data to be recovered quickly, easily, and safely when needed.
No organization is immune to cyberattacks and insider threat, which—in addition to sound data protection as a foundation—also requires the storage array to support encryption at rest with external key management via KMIP. Increasingly, FIPS 140-2 Level 2 compliance is emerging as a leading requirement for security-focused organizations. In addition, your storage will need to support multi-factor authentication, role-based access, crypto shredding of data, encrypted replication, and the option for WORM storage of critical compliance or legal data with enhanced logging and audit capabilities.
Speed, reliability, accessibility, and bandwidth are becoming increasing important to many enterprises, and it is critical that data infrastructure be set up to ensure data transmission, receipt, storage, and analyzation when and where it’s needed. The closer data storage is to the source, the less latency there is in retrieving data, which means you can more quickly access insights and value. Leading solutions will support NVMe, not only a replacement protocol for aging SAS and other SCSI based solutions within the array, but also over Fabric support such as NVMe/FC, NVMe over Ethernet (e.g. RoCEv2), NVMe over IB, etc. Leading solutions will also provide support for emerging Storage Class Memory products.
Automation and Kubernetes
Leading storage arrays provide RESTful API support and integrations with leading automation frameworks such as Ansible, Salt Stack, Chef, Puppet and others. Your storage solution should also provide a “plug-in” that allows persistent storage claims to be made for containers, and this should be part of an infrastructure as code (IaC) requirement.
Storage solutions exist to support the data that drives business. Storage solutions today need integrations with leading enterprise applications, as well as platform support.
Leading storage solutions increasingly are being recast as a software-defined version of the traditional appliance, array, and frame approach. The key here is to understand the right use cases for software-defined storage, intended use cases, and deployment models. The right software-defined storage solution would provide the same functionality that you would get with the “packaged” hardware plus software approach that has been the norm in the industry for years as a VM, in the cloud or as a container-based solution.
One of the emerging but increasingly important options that storage solutions must offer customers is flexibility in consumption. Will you want or need traditional capex or would your business benefit from opex? Can the solution be consumed as a managed service, and if so, does the solution provide the flexibility for OEM-managed, partner-managed, or customer-managed? Finally, is the solution flexible with respect to consuming software as a perpetual or subscription license? Increasingly customers look for a variety of consumption options, and your chosen storage solution should make it easier to match those requirements.
Your IT team needs to be able to control and manage your storage solution on a day to day basis. Furthermore, consider how your storage needs align with your team’s ability to support them. Do they have the ability to access servers if needed, to scale to meet the needs of a growing business, to support security and compliance requirements, and so on? Beyond your own team, consider the support services offered by a selected storage solution, as it is likely that one day your team will need their assistance.
Data has never been more important, and its importance will only continue to grow. Though each storage approach has benefits and drawbacks, the key to implementing the right solution for your business is always knowing your needs, and the best first step is selecting a storage solution provider that balances those often-competing needs.