5 key considerations for an effective storage solution
The importance of data storage has changed as digital transformation has touched all aspects of modern business. The more data your business generates, the more critical your data storage and access becomes.
Simplifying storage options down to a workable solution that compliments your business requires some due diligence. There are a few key questions such as:
- What does best-practice data storage look like?
- Is there an optimal all-purpose solution for storage?
- What criteria should you use to identify such a solution?
- How do your data and compute requirements impact your storage solution?
The answers to these questions can be the difference between efficiency and frustration.
Here, we answer these key questions to help you design the ideal storage solution for your business.
1. What is the defining feature of an effective storage solution?
The traditional measures for comparing and picking a storage solution usually boil down to:
Performance is often seen as the most important element. This is chiefly because modern applications require a certain level of throughput to run at optimal efficiency. After all, if an app struggles to receive the necessary level of performance, the flow-on effect impacts everything from productivity to end user experience.
However, prioritising performance over all other measures will have a huge impact on your budget. As will selecting the highest level of each listed criteria. To ensure you’re balancing cost with functionality, you should shape your storage solution to look more like this:
- Performance – Does it perform well enough? Will your users notice a reduction in performance?
- Scalability – Is it flexible enough? Can you scale out your capacity needs as required?
- Reliability – Is it reliable enough? If a controller or disk fails, will your storage still be available?
- Security – Is it secure enough? Will the right people have access to your data?
- Cost – Is it affordable?
2. What selection criteria should you use to identify the right storage solution for your needs?
It is important to focus on scaling capabilities across capacity and performance. The first thing you will want to do is compile a list of all your applications and document the individual performance demands of each. Then:
- Think about how much data you really use for these applications. Can you archive some of it first to reduce your primary storage footprint?
- Does your storage vendor have a minimum consumption requirement?
- Can your storage vendor deliver a scale out and up solution?
- Can your storage vendor deliver a scale in and down solution?
- Does the storage vendor use data reduction technologies such as compression, deduplication, or thin provisioning?
Analysing your IOPS (input/output operations per second) requirements, the latency of your applications, queue depth and configuration of your operating systems will give you an educated estimate on your performance requirements. Also be sure to ask your vendor:
- Will your solution have the capability to handle our projected growth?
- Do you have proof of execution or a test environment that we can use to view the potential capacity?
- What options are there in terms of consolidating or reducing our overall storage footprint?
3. Is there an optimal all-purpose solution for storage?
There is no silver bullet to effective data storage. However, there are several common elements you can find in any effective storage environment. Storage requirements typically align with three different performance requirements:
- A small amount of very high-performance storage for your most critical applications and processes. As the most expensive element of your storage investment, it’s critical that this storage is prioritised for apps that deliver profit and savings.
- A deep storage component to be used for non-critical apps and workflows.
- A majority allotment of medium performance storage to maintain an efficient end user experience.
Using these three pillars as your starting point will enable you to prioritise which apps fit into which storage tier. From there you can test your performance output and make balance adjustments to your tiers for cost versus performance.
4. For organisations with high data or high compute requirements – What is the best setup and why?
Typically speaking, an environment built on cloud storage is the optimal solution for this type of organisation due to its combination of price, scalability, and performance. Although the scalability element is expensive, the extensive requirements of high compute organisations means it is still the best option. In fact, it is one of many reasons why the adoption of hybrid cloud continues to grow as it helps to offset the cost versus performance and scalability.
Efficient scalability is key because running out of capacity in a high compute environment leads to flow on effects across profitability, customer experience and brand reputation. It is also important to address fast access to temporary data, with the impact of downtime on your bottom line being far greater than it was several years ago.
5. For organisations with low data or low compute requirements – What is the best setup and why?
For organisations like this, a managed service offering with pre-defined capacity tends to be the most efficient and straightforward setup. When it comes to low data and low compute, capacity levels are largely dependent on the business’s rate of growth.
If your business falls into this category, it is important to undertake your due diligence when estimating future growth over the medium to long-term. Organisations with low requirements tend to have fewer resources and struggle with the cost and ongoing maintenance and management of their storage environment. A managed service offsets this through ongoing lifecycle management that reduces the risk of downtime and ballooning costs
The most effective storage solution for your needs depends on exactly that, your needs. Remember that IOPS is just one part of the puzzle when evaluating the right storage solution for your business.
At Digital Sense, we are passionate technologists who empower our customers to grow their businesses through digital efficiency. To learn more about how to best position your business with an efficient storage solution, contact our team of specialists today.