Rajesh Nair is CTO of Tegile.
Until recently, the conventional wisdom about data storage was that on-premise solutions don’t offer the flexibility or cost savings of the cloud. Enterprises may have concerns about handing over control of their data and IT infrastructure to a cloud provider because they worry about security, but they’re willing to put these concerns aside if they think they can get the scale and storage they need — at a good price.
Depending on your business, this might have been true in the past: If you weren’t dealing with big data sets, sought low latency, and wanted to save money, the cloud may have been the right choice. Spinning disks didn’t offer the performance needed, and flash drives were too expensive to use in bulk.
Recent changes in the storage market have weakened the argument that storage in the public cloud is the only cost-effective option. Your data center doesn’t necessarily have to be built in the cloud if you’re trying to get that magic combination of cost effectiveness and performance. Here’s what’s happening in the data storage market that should factor into your decision making:
- Multi-tiered flash. No doubt your business’s analysts are clamoring for predictive modeling that’s powered by real-time analytics. However, disk-based storage was never designed for this type of task – real-time analytics need an infrastructure that can process queries and requests immediately, as opposed to the batch processing done with disk storage. Multi-tiered flash – which includes fast flash for performance, and dense flash for capacity – allows you to process real-time data on an all-flash platform, providing better performance and low latency, and at a reasonable price. Even if your organization isn’t necessarily making use of extensive real-time data analytics, there’s no telling how much you’ll rely on it in the future – so better to prepare infrastructure to support future needs. As flash storage has become more affordable, cost is no longer the deciding factor. If your data center is modernized, running it on-premise can actually be less expensive than the cloud. Cloud storage can make economic sense, but the cost of reading and processing large data sets can ratchet up storage costs beyond an on-premise option. There’s also the reduced maintenance costs associated with flash drives compared to spinning drives, so that’s another data point to consider when comparing costs of the cloud versus on-premise data storage.
- High bandwidth and low latency. Non-Volatile Memory Express, or NVMe, is a relatively new interface standard for storage, and was designed to optimize the higher performance of newer flash drives. Before NVMe, the speed and performance of flash hit a bottleneck because the standards couldn’t deliver similar speeds. With NVMe, when you spend money on flash storage, you’ll get what you pay for. That means you can provide memory-to-memory transfers that are nearly as fast as accessing local file storage at sub-millisecond latencies, which is obviously quicker than cloud storage and an unheard-of precedent in storage. Simply put, on-premise data gives you more choices in how you run your data center. Your IT department can respond more quickly to online attacks or system failures, and can step in to protect data. You also gain more control over performance. Instead of being hemmed in by the benchmarks of your cloud provider, you have the choice to increase performance through use of various flash options.
The cloud vs. on-premise debate will never have one answer that’s right for every organization. But as innovations in data storage change some long-held beliefs about which option offers the best performance at the right cost, it’s worth taking a new look at your data storage choices.
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