Table of Contents
The concepts of primary storage, data, and workloads have radically changed in recent years. Mission- and business-critical functions in enterprise organizations were concentrated on a few monolithic applications based on traditional relational databases. In this scenario, block storage was often synonymous with primary storage (that is, storage dedicated to the highest priority, business-critical data for the organization), which is usually structured in databases. This requires the highest levels of performance, reliability, and availability, and most of the solutions available in the market were designed for that type of requirement. As a result, performance, availability, and resiliency were generally on top, at the expense of other characteristics like flexibility, ease of use, and cost.
Things have radically changed, due to new technologies, architectures, and development models on one hand, and the realization that data is one of the most important assets for any type of organization on the other. Primary and secondary data categorization are no longer coarsely categorized in terms of “structured” and “unstructured,” but rather by the applications and business processes accessing it. In fact, thanks to digital transformation and other initiatives across all the organization, it is now common that applications access structured and unstructured data concurrently, with different protocols and based on separate logical or physical repositories.
When it comes to modern storage in general, and block storage in particular, flash memory and high-speed Ethernet networks have commoditized performance and reduced costs, allowing for greater flexibility in system design. At the same time, enterprise organizations want to align storage to the rest of infrastructure strategy, based on pressing requirements including:
- Better agility of the infrastructure to respond quickly to business needs
- Improved data mobility and integration with the cloud
- Support for larger numbers of concurrent applications and workloads on the same system
- Overall infrastructure simplification
- Automation and orchestration to speed up and scale operations
- Direct linkage between infrastructure performance and user or customer experience
- Drastic reduction of the total cost of ownership (TCO) while significantly increasing the capacity per sysadmin under management
Many of these points are instrumental to the realization of modern IT infrastructures and strategies. This has contributed to the expansion in the number of solutions available in the market from startups and established vendors alike, which are now focusing the development of new storage systems by taking into account these needs. Traditional high-end and mid-range storage arrays have been joined by software-defined and specialized solutions serving similar market segments, but differentiated by the focus they have on specific requirements. A one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t exist. In this report, we will analyze several aspects and important features of modern storage systems, to understand how they respond to these needs and enable organizations to evaluate specific solutions based on their own needs.