— Storage Horizons Blog —

What’s a cloud? To me, it is an automated datacenter that can provide compute, application, and backup services. It can be a private cloud for a company, or it can be public where the cloud provider wants to make money on the services it provides.

In both private and public clouds, the thought of efficiency is the key to a successful and profitable business. From the amount of humans that have to administer it, to the efficiency of computes, infrastructure, and storage—it is all about the money. In old terms, it’s about total cost of ownership (TCO). Somehow the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) have overshadowed this most important metric of all and it’s time it makes a comeback.

TCO is NOT about how much it costs to put something in the cloud operation. Sure it’s a component, but what about how much it can do for the cloud provider from the standpoint of work units per hour, power, space, and cooling costs? After these basics, there are the big metrics in computing like availability and reliability (how much service does it need); and for storage, it’s about capacity utilization of what was purchased. The last aspect is about how much is charged for the service contracts of each technical component of the system. It is amazing that this probably drives 20-40% of the costs for a cloud, as well as any datacenter. The three-year life cycle is artificial and drives pure money, for the vendors or forklift upgrades, when components can and do last longer. Why can’t we just make stuff that is reliable and requires little service, like ISE with its five-year hardware warranty?  We put a man on the moon over 40 years ago, so why can’t we make products that just work like ISE? The answer is partly in the desire for service revenues, as well as the lack of innovation.

So much noise was made about $/GB over the years, and it seems like the entire world has been brainwashed that SATA drives are the panacea for storage. Recently, the big hype has been around flash storage in some type of card that is installed in a computer or SSD—or a big box of flash. That’s going the other way on $/GB, even though it is fast as could be.

Both SATA and flash today have TCO that is higher than people think. They have good aspects but they also have bad aspects that bring TCO down-to-earth. SATA drives may be cheap but they are unreliable and have almost no performance, and when you push them hard, they die quicker. SATA drives also are unable to access all of the capacity in any reasonable time—which means for all but backup or content.  They are pretty much a bad choice for any real application because your capacity utilization is well below 50%. It is stranded capacity that is wasted and causes people to buy more storage, waste more storage, waste more space, and waste more power! So for those who just buy more drives, the power, space, and cooling then become issues, as well as drive failure rates, repair frequency, and potentials for data loss. For those in the cloud who then just say, “Buy many of them and have many copies of the data,” the capacity utilization and effective $/GB continue to dwindle while all the other cost metrics soar, as well.

For all SSD solutions today, the $/GB is prohibitive. I love flash as an option for the future, along with other up-and-coming, non-volatile storage options.  However, most device makers that are currently using flash, waste a lot of space because of the lifetime and failure modes of flash. Today when you add this up, it increases the $/GB. Stay tuned for this situation because if the prices were to come down significantly, relative to enterprise HDD, things may change quickly, but all other aspects of TCO still must be addressed no matter what the storage type. SSD in ISE is already here with Hyper ISE—it is the most efficient use of SSD with HDD in the industry. When SSDs are more cost-effective, ISE will be ready for them. So the TCO is all about the cost of storage procurement, the cost of service contracts, as well as power, cooling, capacity utilization, overall reliability (need for repair events), availability to applications, and performance. Those all-ssd suppliers that use de-dupe and compression to market a lower $/GB really add power and cost to the solution with a subjective amount of capacity savings vs. 100% capacity utilization that ISE provides.

ISE density today allows for 40 2.5” devices to be housed in every 3U rack. While it is possibly not the densest packaging, ISE is all about making sure that the density does not cause reliability problems with vibration and heat. Remember, the environmental factors for all storage devices are key metrics, whether they are HDD or SSD.

By design, ISE, as compared to other enterprise arrays, experiences 100 times less service events because of its technology. My team (some of whom have been with me for 10-30 years) and I developed it while working at Seagate between the years of 2002-2007. This was proven in its first generation, first shipped in 2008, and running in most countries in the world. ISE also has unprecedented availability with straightforward test metrics from ISE architecture that allows software to be adequately tested. Architecture wins in this world, even though brute force can hide the facts for a while.

ISE performance has been shown, in industry benchmarks, to lead in efficient application performance. ISE gets three to four times the I/O out of an HDD, vs. all competition, and with Hyper-ISE, a unique fusion of HDD and SSD (NOT flash cache), the applications just scream. Recent Redknee and Temenos benchmarks, for mobile billing and banking applications that use Microsoft SQL 2012, show that ISE is 25 times more efficient than traditional enterprise storage for applications. This is an incredible savings of space and power, along with the fact that ISE allows full capacity utilization while maintaining full performance.

ISE was built with cloud in mind, first and foremost, when a cloud was basically an automated or autonomic datacenter. We have done all the work with many datacenters, and the numbers are clear about ISE efficiency for enterprise applications against traditional storage:

  1. ISE reduces space costs by 3X
  2. ISE reduces power costs in datacenters by 10X
  3. ISE reduces service events by 100X with proven ISE packaging and self-healing technology

In this world, where costs and human resources are always the desired point for savings by every CFO, for clouds and datacenters, ISE should be considered for all.  X-IO is shown by Gartner to be the ONLY innovators in storage, and we are executing on this vision for all customers.

In previous blogs, I’ve written about the myths and truths of storage. I’ve written about how frequently drives fail, or look like they fail, and cause service events for the rest of the industry. I’ve written about performance and its need to cover all of the capacity purchased for enterprise applications. I’ve written about availability and how it relates to efficient use, 24-hours-per-day, for datacenter applications. Space and cooling also played a part in my writings, because if you can use what you buy, it takes less space and less cooling to run your datacenter.

All of these essays apply to Cloud datacenters, whether private or public. ISE is all about enterprise applications and private clouds, as well as new “application” public clouds. It is purpose-built to be efficient, easy-to-use and last five years or more. There is nothing like ISE in today’s industry, regardless of marketing and FUD by the competition.  ISE is needed because it is the most efficient storage on the planet—and that’s about TCO.

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