The Pros and Cons of Today’s Storage Technologies

There is a veritable food court of storage technologies on the market. How do you go about finding the solution that’s a good fit for your organization? In my earlier blogs I talked about hyper-convergence, open source storage, software-defined storage Cloud storage, flash storage, and object storage. To make the process of understanding storage technologies a bit easier, I’ve listed the major technologies and included the pros and cons of each. 

Storage TechnologyProsCons
Software-defined storage
  • Automate and manage data from a centralized location.
  • Build your own storage infrastructure, so you don’t have to worry about integrating different vendor products.
  • Flexible scaling allows you to add new features with just software updates.
  • Independent software and hardware means more components to manage.
  • Must ensure that the infrastructure matches the difference in latency and performance across your storage arrays.
Integrated computing platform (ICP), or hyper-convergence
  • Simplifies storage, computing, and network management.
  • Computer, storage, and network comes as a complete package.
  • Good package for a moderate IT budget.
  • Making granular upgrades or minor tweaks is challenging. For example, if the cluster gets low on storage, but the computer is performing well, a storage upgrade alone is not possible.
  • Must upgrade overall capability by adding another appliance when the cluster runs low on storage, even if the rest of the system is operating well.
Open source storage
  • Save money on purchase and maintenance.  
  • No compliance issues.
  • Code modification is based on your organization’s needs.
  • Hidden costs are involved, especially the cost of hiring a trained admin who knows how to operate the system, or training a current admin to do so.  
  • Must be compatible with other platforms in your organization.
  • No technical guidance or customer support. You are on your own if something fails.
Cloud storage
  • Minimal initial investment. 
  • Makes data available for users everywhere. Some availability outside the company VPN.
  • Multiple disaster recovery options keep data safe. 
  • You are charged according to the amount of storage you use. This can be expensive, but beneficial at times for some organizations because they don’t have to pay ahead. 
  • The security of your data depends on your 3rd parties.
  • Because the bulk of your data has to be transferred via the Internet, you will pay more for the bandwidth you use.
Flash storage
  • Able to continually increase capacity.
  • No moving parts (i.e. spinning disks) to create opportunities for storage mishandling.
  • More expensive than hard drives at a dollar per GB level.
  • Performance across vendors and models can vary significantly, even for the same capacity and endurance rating.
Object storage
  • Best solution for backup and recovery options.
  • Good scalability and distributed access.
  • Data is unstructured.
  • Not suited for organizations that deal with a lot of transaction data (i.e. data that frequently changes).