If you would have asked me a year ago about the all-flash data center, I would be shaking my head “no” before you got to the end of your question. I would object to the thought with a question like, “Why would you put legacy data that is rarely accessed on expensive flash media when you could store it on high-capacity, low cost disks which would not only give you a cost savings, but use a much lower footprint?” Then, perhaps I would answer my own question with, “You wouldn’t… you’d want a hybrid solution with active data on performant flash and archive data on disk. It just makes the most sense.” The Avere Edge-Core architecture enables that exact solution.
As we end a year where cloud technology acceptance has continued to grow, let's look ahead to the new year by making some predictions.
I'll jump right to it...
1. Nobody gets fired for having a cloud strategy
In 2015, every company will need a cloud strategy (public and/or private) within their data center to remain agile in the market and responsive to customer needs. As big data continues to be the hot topic for companies across all industries, utilizing the cloud will become even more important to help balance the data center.
Although it still may not be the most popular topic at cocktail parties, the world of storage is getting very exciting. We’re at the forefront of some of the biggest changes in data center architecture ever; these advancements in storage technology are a key enabler in this new world order.
Today, Avere Systems announced the Virtual FXT Edge Filer. This high-performance, software-based NAS platform supports Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) and is the only solution on the market today that lets companies finally connect the dots between the compute cloud, storage cloud, and on-premises storage.
Our news came out among a flurry of hybrid cloud announcements across the industry, which isn’t surprising given the interest we are seeing from our customers regarding cloud. The move to the cloud is real and economics are the driving force. I have talked to numerous CIOs over the past few months who are adamant about halting data center build-outs and working aggressively to move much of their data off-premises with the goal of a hybrid environment. They see their company mission, value-add and expertise as being the best— the best pharmaceutical maker or the best in financial services — not the best IT service provider.
I was on a panel at this year's Pacific Crest conference with three companies that represent flash-only solutions to different niches of the storage market. The question was asked about if/when flash would replace spinning media forever. As you would expect, the discussion started with the usual flash is the saving technology for all storage problems. In that context, I raised two points that could not be refuted.
In the little over a year that we have been shipping our FXT Scale-out NAS Appliance, we have received very positive feedback on our product and its ability to scale NAS performance. Performance scaling is the result of both our Tiered File System (TFS), which dynamically allocates frequently used blocks to faster storage media, and our clustering technology which clusters up to 25 appliances together to linearly scale performance.
In today's homogeneous-media NAS architectures, users will invariably be asked to add hard disk drives to increase storage capacity or system performance. Beyond the acquisition cost of the hard disk media, users need to consider the total cost of adding hard disk drives to a NAS infrastructure. Beyond the acquisition cost of enterprise-class Fibre Channel or SAS drives, you also have to factor in the hidden costs of power and cooling, the necessary rack space and data center floor space. Furthermore, adding hard disk drives is a costly and largely ineffective method of increasing NAS performance. HDDs are inefficient at providing IOPS, so adding expensive HDDs is not a good IT investment from a cost-performance metric.
The term Dynamic Tiering has really been abused in the network storage industry lately. Everyone talks about tiering in one form or another. Vendors that do not have currently shipping products talk about futures and those vendors that have shipping products do not actually disclose how their tiering works, which applications benefit, nor by how much.
Today we announced the FXT 2700, which is our first product based on SLC Flash technology. In the time that customers have been evaluating this product, we have talked to many organizations interested in testing the benefits of SSD technology. The good news is that for those looking to experiment with the performance benefits of SSD, the FXT 2700 turns out to be an easy and cost effective way to add SSD performance to any NAS-based application.