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Why storage is getting simpler

Goodbye, old bottleneck
StorageMojo has often asked buyers to focus on latency rather than IOPS thanks to SSDs making IOPS cheap and plentiful. This naturally leads to a focus on I/O stack latency, which multiple vendors are attacking.

But what are the implications of cheap IOPS for enterprise data center operations? That’s what’s motivating the secular trend for simpler storage.

First things
Is data center storage getting simpler? It’s clear that the big iron arrays are sucking wind – EMC’s VMAX/VNX (Information Storage) group saw peak sales in Q4, 2014 – and I forecast that declining trend will accelerate in coming quarters and last for years.

We are also seeing a trend play out in a variety of product categories. The rise of data aware storage from Qumulo and Data Gravity makes it much simpler for less skilled staff to identify storage issues.

The converged and hyper converged platforms roll storage management in with systems management. The advanced remote monitoring and sophisticated but easy to use DR features from Nimble are another example.

And, of course, the simpler object storage interfaces of cloud vendors, who also remove most of the management overhead from corporate IT. The software-only, commodity-based vendors whose products partly compete with cloud, also get it: Scale Computing’s first word on their website is “Simple”.

Why now?

  • Cost. The driver. People are ≈70% of enterprise data center cost. Simpler storage = fewer and cheaper people.
  • Flash. Tuning HDD-based arrays for performance took a lot of knobs and dials – and people who understood them. Flash makes high performance a given.
  • Cloud. Cloud is the vise crushing EDC costs. CFOs who don’t know a switch from server can read AWS prices and put the heat on CIOs.
  • Scale. Everyone is handling much larger data stores now, so automation is a necessity.

The StorageMojo take
The IT equivalent of Formula 1 race tuning won’t disappear: some apps will always require the utmost performance. But the huge mass of users will take lower costs over the last possible IOP.

The losers are the systems that make customers pay for features they no longer need. Winners will successfully blend ease of use with performance and availability – at a competitive price.

Is the storage admin an endangered species? Yes. Their numbers wills shrink as the complexity that makes them necessary declines.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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