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The Pros and Cons of Today’s Storage Technologies

Level 10

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). 

Thanks for putting this into a tabular view...easier to figure out the differences.

Level 14

Great reference... Thanks for doing this!!!

Have saved for future reference.....

Level 21

praveenmanohar‌, this is a great overview!  Where does something like a more classic EMC or NetApp fit into this?

About the Author
I've been in IT for almost 30 years beginning in the stockroom and working my way up through operations to help build and develop the Automated Operations Team at Radioshack before Enterprise Management was a cool thing. Working in several different shops over the years has exposed me to a number of different challenges regarding monitoring and alerting. I am a amateur radio operator, Skywarn spotter for the National Weather Service, and a volunteer firefighter in a rural county just West of Fort Worth.