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File storage is one of the most popular ways to store data, both on premises and in the cloud, and scale-out file storage is becoming the default choice for most organizations because of its ability to expand quickly while increasing throughput. There are other reasons for the success of scale-out file storage:
- Object storage is rising in popularity but file systems, often accessed via network protocols like NFS and SMB, are still the data storage system of choice for a large number of workloads, including big data analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), high-performance computing (HPC), and more.
- Modern file systems are much more scalable than in the past, providing a familiar user interface and authentication methods with performance and scalability.
- Legacy applications are usually written to work with POSIX-compliant file systems and multiple applications accessing the same data sets are quite common. Rewriting these old applications to take advantage of object stores is not always a viable option, so many end users keep investing in file storage.
- Modern scale-out solutions are mature and flexible, with most of the complexity now hidden behind the scenes. In the end, managing a large scale-out system is less time consuming than managing several scale-up systems.
- Solutions that support data mobility across different environments are becoming increasingly important for executing properly on hybrid IT strategies, and scale-out file storage systems are easy to implement on cloud virtual machine instances. In this regard, GigaOm recently published a report about cloud-based file storage, because there is a growing demand for sophisticated file services on-premises and in the cloud.
With unstructured data accounting for up to 90% of what is stored in enterprise infrastructures, storage that is scalable and fast enough to manage interactive workloads is crucial for responding adequately to business needs. That said, enterprises don’t want to trade scalability and performance for the data services and flexibility they usually get from traditional scale-up network attached storage (NAS) solutions. This is why scale-out storage systems are much more balanced than in the past and tend to encompass enterprise features like scalability, flexibility, efficiency, and performance characteristics.