Seven Ways to Optimize Your Storage

Storage optimization goes far beyond things like deduplication or thin provisioning. Here's an overview of what's out there today.

Bill Kleyman

August 28, 2015

4 Min Read
Seven Ways to Optimize Your Storage
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

We're really getting caught up in the whole software-defined storage, flash, converged architecture conversation. When looking at storage platforms, take the time to look at ALL of the features, optimizations, and add-ons storage platforms have. Do you need direct API integration for OpenStack? Are you looking for specific types of compression technologies? How cloud-ready do you want to be with storage? There are a lot of often overlooked software tools that can really go a long way.

We’ve talked about commodity systems here already. Now, more storage vendors are looking at better ways to optimize, deliver, and control data. The reality is that this goes far beyond deduplication or thin provisioning. Let’s look at some really cool storage features to keep an eye on.

  • Pooling and abstracting storage. It’s pretty much SDS here, which stands for software-defined storage. But the big point is that both hardware and software vendors are releasing their own versions of SDS. You can now pool and abstract storage resources at both logical and physical layers. For example, a physical system could pool all storage into an EMC ViPR platform or into the software- layer by using Atlantis USX. Other technologies like NSX let you integrate directly with the hypervisor to create complete storage abstraction and VM control.

  • IO acceleration. Creating intelligent policies around data and workload optimization is the way to go. Both software and physical systems now offer caching and coalescing solutions. You can turn an older SSD array or a flash card into a caching engine via a simple policy.

  • vVOL. This is a pretty big one. vVOL basically becomes the single container for storing the entire contents of a VM, including all metadata associated with it. That kind of granular control allows you to have very specific levels of policy management around the VM. There was another challenge. Creating and managing 50 or 100 LUNs was one thing. However, organizations quickly ran into vSphere's limit of mounting 256 LUNs to a vSphere cluster. VAAI and vVOL support help eliminate this issue and create more LUN and VM management. Already Atlantis Computing, DataCore, EMC, HDS, and HP are creating next-gen designs around vVOL capabilities.

  • Data mobility and DRBC. Replicating files and data is one thing, but what about creating active-active HA platforms. New software features allow you to teleport data and allow it to reside at a certain location based on an application, a user, proximity, or an event. Don’t overlook this one.

  • Policies, features, and built-in optimizations. Do you know what your storage system is capable of? Have you looked at QoS policies or even data compression optimizations? Today, vendors are building in a number of features both on the hardware and software side to help you better control your data. Oftentimes these native features are overlooked or not properly configured. You can create auto-migration policies not only to optimize your storage architecture but to help with space and data archival. Storage automation can help lift a lot of the burden away from some daily management tasks.

  • Encryption and security. Why not add a bit of security on top of your storage array? When moving files internally or through the cloud, working with new levels of security is a must. The other big aspect is how storage security now integrates with the cloud. Integrated DLP solutions and advanced data correlation give you a deep understanding of the information in your storage array. For example, DataGravity, a new storage appliance maker, has a unique unified storage platform that offers insights at the same richness of intelligence regardless of whether the data is block or file. The software architecture lets IT teams, as well as security, compliance, and line-of-business users unlock the value in their data by automatically analyzing information as it is ingested without impacting production operations.

  • REST APIs. Another big one. More organizations are looking at ways to integrate their storage platforms with the cloud. APIs are the way to do it. By being able to directly integrate with vCenter, vCAC, OpenStack, CloudStack, and even the IBM SmartCloud organizations get a lot more flexibility around their data. Furthermore, this kind of integration then allows for automation to happen and even event-based management.

As mentioned earlier, it’s much more than just simple software-based add-ons. The movement toward better storage control is really picking up pace. With commodity systems and a lot more data to control organizations are finding new ways to be creative with their data. Ultimately, this benefits the overall infrastructure, the business, and the users.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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