You can’t always get what you want

There have been a raft of new storage efficiency elements brought to market in the last few years, but what has become obvious is that you can’t yet get it all in one product. Think about some of the common features you can read about, with their limitations removed:

  • primary disk deduplication, with high speed dedup processing
  • primary disk compression with enough controller performance to handle it
  • cost-effective solid state drives
  • automated block tiering
  • fully unified file and block storage
  • automated file tiering
  • integrated HSM to tape
  • replication over IP
  • virtualization of legacy disk systems
  • easy migration off legacy disk systems
  • really easy management, where everything can be done from one simple interface
  • easy performance monitoring and capacity trending
  • simple licensing structure
  • no negative interactions between features
  • really good thin provisioning management and a low impact snap architecture that doesn’t jeopardise provisioning space in the primary volume
  • consistent performance across the life of the product without laborious tuning
  • multi-tenant role-based management

I’m reminded of the old storage adage about 1) performance 2) high availability and 3) affordability – “choose any two”.

Things have moved on a bit from there. What we are seeing now is storage on the move, but really only just. Meanwhile, we need to compromise and prioritise while we wait for the solutions to mature. I wonder how many years it will be before we can take the above list for granted in a single product.

We seem to spend a lot of time thinking about what’s just arrived and what’s on the near horizon. I also wonder what the next big innovation will be. Where will storage be in 10+ years time? Maybe for example, auto-tiering will be built from integrated modules of storage-class memory, SATA drives and LTOx tape with LTFS.

But 10 years is really not long-term. To get some really innovative thinking you’d have to look out at least 20 years. That’s not so easy. When we tried it with cars years ago we came up with flying cars. I hope we have better luck when it comes to achieving storage innovation. I’d be interested to hear any creative ideas.

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