Storage for the Next-Generation Data Center

Kurt Hildebrand

As the amount of data created and captured by digital technology continues to grow exponentially, enterprises must integrate new storage technologies and processes – or risk falling behind competitors.

The challenge, however, goes far beyond having enough storage capacity. The real goal of enterprise storage should be to transform the data center into a strategic business asset. And that’s accomplished by deploying tools and services that optimize the value of an enterprise’s data.

Some data is accessed frequently, and some just once a year. There’s data that can be mined using analytics to predict customer behavior, and other data that’s random “noise.” Some data might need to be accessed in real-time to enable transactions that benefit the business. There might be data you’re willing to store in a public cloud, and other data that you prefer to store on-premises.

All of which means there’s no “one size fits all” solution to enterprise storage. Given the growing diversity and complexity of enterprises’ data needs, the next generation of data centers is likely to leverage a mix of storage technologies, including:

  • All-flash arrays, or solid state drives (SSD), which offer extremely low latency and thus are ideal for accessing data as part of a real-time transaction
  • Hybrid arrays, a combination of flash and traditional hard disk drives (HDD) that blend cheaper disk storage with more expensive and faster flash technology
  • Automated tiered storage, which enables data to be routed to the appropriate storage technology

Many enterprises grappling with tight budgets might be tempted to stick with HDD as a storage solution, but the purchase price of SSD storage continues to fall, making it an increasingly viable option. Further, adding even just a small amount of flash storage can improve response time and reduce hardware support costs, resulting in more favorable TCO.

Storage in the next-generation data center won’t be about warehousing information. It will be about storing data intelligently based on use and need. It will be about using data as a competitive weapon. It will be about ensuring access and analysis when and where it’s needed.

Flash and other emerging storage technologies such as virtualization will play an increasing role in the competitive strategies of enterprises in the mobile, cloud-based digital economy. IT decision-makers struggling to determine the right storage formula for their enterprises should talk with an experienced storage product and services vendor to determine the best combination of technologies for their data center needs.

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