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Zerowait High Availability Blog

Zerowait is an international 3rd party provider of Parts, Services, and Support for Network Appliance equipment. Zerowait is not a partner of, nor affiliated with, Network Appliance Corporation. Offices in USA,UK & AUS.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Keep It Simple Storage


I have met with a lot of customers over the past few years, and after hundreds of customer visits and thousands of phone calls and emails, I think I’ve learned what customers really want from storage. It should be: 1 – Easy to deploy.  2 - Affordable. 3 – Straight-forward to manage.  4 – Uncomplicated to expand.

Why is enterprise storage so hard to deploy and so difficult to migrate data to and from?  A lot of storage issues are caused by patchwork networking and storage protocols that have grown over 20 years into a mix of open source and proprietary solutions. Politicians often say that making laws is like making sausage, and the same can be said for enterprise storage. There is no one ‘right’ answer for all storage as there are so many special requirements and applications. After thousands of conversations with storage engineers and managers I have come to the conclusion that storage is simple to define in the macro environment, but difficult to define in the small, user environment. Whereas the Big Boss views his storage issues as simple to understand, the storage admin experiences a kaleidoscope of complexity. This leads to problems, one of which is that the Big Boss is often confounded by the acquisition costs and ongoing maintenance and management costs of their tier one arrays.

When storage managers try to explain that storage costs can be managed by migrating less critical data and information to less expensive arrays, management gets interested. But who wants to admit that his division’s data is not as important as another division’s data? Of course every bit of every department’s information is mission critical. If it wasn’t, then perhaps their division could be considered not critical--and in today’s economy, who wants to admit to that? The next step in that train of thought is the unemployment line.  Ego and fear play into the cost of storage and therefore every department’s data is mission critical and on expensive tier one arrays.

We all seem to agree that storage should be easy to manage and that Human Nature creates an environment where every department and user thinks their data storage and network access is mission critical.  How, then, can you prioritize resources for users in network and storage environment where everyone wants and requires priority access? The only solution is to get ever faster switches, routers and storage—which, unfortunately in a lot of cases, are not compatible with the existing architecture. This leads to glitches and hold ups in deployment, more headaches for the admin, and the whole storage infrastructure turns into an unmanageable monster, much like Frankenstein—cobbled together from disparate parts.

Then there is expansion. Tier one storage should be easy and affordable to expand, but can’t be because of proprietary software and legacy hardware. Unfortunately, proprietary software and legacy hardware needs to be kept running: data migrations are difficult and costly, something most companies can ill-afford in today’s economy.

Human nature, technological change and proprietary products all conspire to make storage hard to manage and expensive to maintain. Our customers tell me that Zerowait support is the best available and saves them time and money when compared to OEM support. They also tell us that our SimplStor product provides them the flexibility they need at an affordable price point, if they want new equipment. Successful companies will need to master the details of their network and user requirements in an ever growing mesh of complexity.

Zerowait can  help you with this difficult task.

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