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New requirements for modern Tier-1 storage driven by ITaaS/Cloud environments


Matt_Morrissey.jpegBy Matthew Morrissey, 3PAR Product Marketing Manager, HP Storage


The rapid pace of change coupled with ITaaS/Cloud environments is putting extreme pressure on older established Tier-1 architectures. These older legacy architectures were designed more than 20 years ago – when data growth was once predictable, workloads were kept isolated and spreadsheet based management was the norm. We believe a new set of modern Tier-1 requirements have emerged which are making traditional Tier-1 architectures look increasingly like dinosaurs because they have failed to adapt to a changing reality.


What is traditional Tier-1?

Traditionally, Tier-1 storage has been characterized by hardware redundancy, advanced replication capabilities, and massive scalability in capacity and host connectivity.


This took the appearance of monolithic SAN architectures specifically built to meet large enterprise demands with a high degree of fault tolerance, due in part to the use of global, or monolithic, memory cache. In a shared cache architecture, if one cache module fails its processing workload can be assumed by another cache module. At the time, this was a significant innovation. But in the decades that have ensued, monolithic architectures have never been able to escape the relative complexity of this system’s design. Not to mention other limitations such as the reliance on proprietary technologies and inflexibility with respect to interactions between systems.


Any notions of Quality of Service (QoS) enforcement and/or site level failure protection were defined by hardware based approaches adding even more complexity. Tier-1 storage is rapidly changing and a new set of requirements has emerged.


New workloads drive modern Tier-1 requirements

IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) is inherently unpredictable. It counts on massive levels of consolidation to drive efficiency. There is a virtualized set of resources. And there is explosive data growth. Planning horizons have really been compressed. Virtual machines are brought up and then subsequently torn down in only a matter of minutes!


So the challenge for organizations becomes: how do you deliver predicable service levels in an inherently unpredictable world? The answer is: you need modern storage that combines traditional product attributes of performance, scalability and reliability with exceptional agility and efficiency. We believe it starts with the following:


  • Resiliency and massive consolidation – Modern Tier-1 storage now must have resiliency and massive consolidation.  Assuring service levels is and continues to be the single most important challenge for any mission-critical environment. That’s why this is a good place to start when considering Tier-1 requirements and how they are evolving.
  • Ability to manage unpredictable growth – Modern, mission-critical environments must also be able to respond rapidly to dynamically changing demands, including managing unpredictable growth. There are two major aspects to this: being able to non-disruptively scale capacity and delivering consistently high performance levels.
  • Secure multitenancy –The multitenancy requirements of cloud and ITaaS mean that disparate users, groups and customers now demand secure access, administration and control. But how can you provide services to all tenants while isolating them and maintaining a secure infrastructure? Using separate physical resources, either with a monolithic storage system or several dedicated modular storage systems, defeats the economic and administrative benefits of consolidation.
  • Self-configuring, self-optimizing and self-tuning storage – To deliver the required agility, resilience and performance demanded by ITaaS, Tier-1 storage systems must also have built-in capabilities that make it self-configuring, self-optimizing and self-tuning. It’s no longer acceptable for storage administrators to be stuck managing spreadsheets by playing a Tetris game, selecting which drives will go into which RAID groups and which LUNs will be provisioned.
  • Optimized asset utilization – Organizations require optimized asset utilization to drive efficiency. Today’s word requires organizations to do more with effectively less – but with no tradeoffs because performance cannot be sacrificed.
  • Nondisruptive, federated data mobility – In an unpredictable world, your organization needs not only a scalable multitenant storage platform but also the ability to grow beyond the boundaries of a single system seamlessly and nondisruptively.

Virtualization is a key enabler for ITaaS and cloud computing, yet all too often a number of siloed storage systems remain in the data center. Virtualized storage mitigates workload unpredictability somewhat. But virtualization on its own can result in more expensive devices, more infrastructure to manage, and more points of failure. This approach reduces storage intelligence to its lowest common denominator. You need data mobility at the software level—not hardware.


Next up: delivering on modern Tier-1 requirements

New service delivery models are creating new modern Tier-1 storage requirements. It is critical that all storage systems meet these requirements in order to be ready for the new IT world of virtualization, ITaaS and new cloud services delivery models.


I’ll be back soon with another blog detailing how we believe HP 3PAR StoreServ is the only solution on the market capable of delivering all these modern Tier-1 requirements to your rapidly changing IT environment.

In the meantime to learn more on the topic, check out:


Blog post by my colleague HPStorageGuy: What is Tier-1 Storage   

Whitepaper from ESG: The Changing Face of Tier-1 Storage in the Modern Data Center

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