Consolidate Storage to Improve Availability and Lower Costs
In most environments, the concerns of CIOs, Storage Architects, and IT Directors about how storage consolidation increases the size of fault domains are unfounded because modern multi-controller scale enterprise arrays that have been market validated can effectively deliver 100% availability (1). They have more usable availability, higher levels of fault tolerance, and more reliable non-disruptive software update capabilities than dual controller arrays (2). Storage consolidation simplifies infrastructure topologies, by reducing the number of arrays being managed and opportunities for misconfigurations both of which contribute to downtime budgets. Storage consolidation also creates larger pools of free space that improve usable availability and operational efficiency relative to collections of smaller dual-controller storage systems. It also reduces the frequency of repair activities as well as power and cooling requirements by decreasing the number of controllers and ports in the SAN infrastructure.
Existing storage infrastructures that have “evolved” frequently suffer from avoidable inefficiencies such as:
- management complexity
- a lack of agility
- availability concerns
- performance problems
- capacity shortfalls
- skills shortages
- backup/recovery issues
- wasted money.
Storage consolidation projects solve many of these problems by providing infrastructure architects with an opportunity to re-evaluate past decisions and design a storage infrastructure tailored to current and future workloads.
With the creation of self-managing storage arrays that make intelligent data placement decisions and access to a plethora of migration tools, technical risks, concerns about data availability, the size of fault domains, and skills shortages are no longer reasons to fear storage consolidation.
Consolidation is a successful strategy for improving availability and operational efficiency. It also examines the primary causes of downtime and repair activities; provides a high-level tutorial on failure mathematics, describes the benefits of storage consolidation, and defines the best practices on executing a storage consolidation project.
For skeptics of the “putting all your eggs in one basket” strategy, history has shown us that building sturdier baskets is a strategy that works, and you only have one basket to watch. Three great examples that highlight the success of this strategy are:
Air Transportation - From the very beginning airplane manufacturers have focused on building bigger, safer planes that can fly farther, faster, and higher. The result is that air travel is safer per seat/mile than driving and plane crashes are a rarity. Why? Because bigger planes have economies of scale that make the addition of system redundancy and advanced safety features inherently more affordable relative to smaller planes, and there are fewer opportunities for air traffic control to misroute planes because there are fewer planes in the air.
Crude Oil Transportation - The growth in global crude oil shipments saw the application of the same “bigger is better” strategy that aircraft manufacturers have employed: fewer bigger, safer, double-hulled tankers equipped with GPS navigation and lots of automation instead of many smaller tankers. Since the cost of building a ship is tied tightly to how much they weigh (more low-tech than high-tech), and volumes go up faster than the surface area (i.e. weight), building big double-hulled ships is inherently more cost-effective than building smaller double-hulled ships. The result is faster, more reliable, accident-free delivery of oil around the world.
Storage Consolidation - Market statistics from both IDC and Gartner indicate that users are pursuing a similar consolidation strategy as they attempt to improve storage infrastructure availability and operational efficiency while lowering costs. More specifically, statistics show annual PB shipments increasing even as the number of storage arrays shipping per year are in decline. In other words, the average capacity configurations of storage arrays are increasing.
To read more and see the supporting analysis, download the complete white paper here.
(1) “Market validated” arrays are arrays that have been in general available for a minimum of 9 to 12 months and have 10s of thousands of machine years of production experience.
(2) “Usable availability” is the ability to meet service level objectives in the presence of hardware failures.