The first step in evaluating any technology should be to determine what problems you are trying to solve. Said another way for businesses, how will this new technology enable your IT team to save time and resources, increase productivity or revenue, and/or decrease risk? There are myriad tools, calculators and feature matrices in every technology segment to help you find solutions but it all starts with understanding what your problems are, how you can efficiently solve them to meet your business objectives, and for how long you can continue to do so.
For object storage, this is an interesting process because even though the technology has been around for over a decade, the problems that object storage solves are relatively new to many organizations.
Realizing You Have A Problem
I am sure you have had many times in your life where you finally bought something, maybe a new tool or a new appliance, and once you used it, your immediate thought was, “why didn’t I buy this sooner?!”. The reason you thought this way is because you most likely found a temporary work-around to fix the problem you had, and when you finally used something properly designed for that specific problem, the task or issue you were trying to solve became much easier.
This concept is magnified in the storage world because you can easily store data on different tiers of storage that provide different benefits. In other words, you may not even know you have a problem because you found a work-around, but what if that work-around is leading to reduced revenue, reduced resources, and increased risk? How do you determine this?
As stated previously, object storage has been around as a commercial product for well over a decade, but it is only now gaining in popularity. Why? The answer is that the problems that object storage solves are now being experienced by many more organizations. From a high level, these problems fall into these categories:
- Scale – The ability to store and protect growing data capacities, which are increasing to hundreds of TBs or PBs, as well as file counts increasing to hundreds of millions, to billions
- Distributed, Web-based Access – Traditional applications, web applications, and end-users (employees, clients, or subscribers) all now need to easily and reliably deliver, store, and access data over the internet
- Total Cost of Ownership (Economics) – The ability to do what is needed within budget, with resources that are attainable and with minimal impact to existing lines of business
Let’s look at some of the issues I have heard directly from end-users within these categories. As you will see, they are inter-connected.
You May Have A Scale Problem
One of the tell-tale signs that you have a scale problem are low disk or no-space errors. One less obvious sign to non-programmers is a “stuttering” application. This may materialize as a client error over HTTP (404 or 408 error), lengthy webpage load times, or some other time-out or “not found” type of message. These errors are also related to access but may be caused by file system-based storage that is slowing due to capacity limitations. Not moving warm or cold data off of primary storage can lead to significant quality of service issues as storage nears full capacity.
The other part of this issue is risk. Sometimes because of budgetary concerns organizations spend on scaling primary storage and don’t invest in proper business continuity or disaster recovery planning. If you do not protect your data in the required way, you risk data loss, data corruption or a data security breach.
You May Have A Distributed Access Problem
In addition to 404 or 408 errors, distributed access problems can also be identified by the complexity of workflows and time spent on enabling external data access. You may have had to cobble together a bunch of different technologies such as WAN acceleration, web servers, or content delivery networks. Or maybe you are still struggling with s—l—o—w FTP servers; Or, maybe you are still managing access to your network with logins and passwords manually on a spreadsheet. These issues materialize as employees or subscribers become unable to access the data or content they need when they need it. These issues also materialize as overloaded administrative resources being diverted to focus on processes that do not help grow a business.
You May Have A Storage TCO Problem
As discussed in the previous two sections, technical issues, misuse of storage solutions, overloaded administrative resources, not being able to store or protect scaling data sets appropriately, poor end-user experience, spending an inordinate amount of time on manual management and not being able to grow your business can all be contributing to your storage total cost of ownership (TCO). Ultimately storage TCO comes down to the budget you have allocated and the results that those funds have produced.
If you are trying to do more with the same budget, then you will need to do something different. This typically requires utilizing a more cost-effective technology, one that automates a number of processes and frees up administrative resources. Or a technology that enables you to offer new products and services.
Learn More: DataCore’s On-Demand Educational Object Storage Webinar
So how can IT leaders start understanding and mitigating these common problems, and furthermore how can they determine if object storage is the right solution to solve them?
Learn more in DataCore’s on-demand educational webinar titled “Evaluating Object Storage Solutions.” In the session, Eric Burgener, Research VP for IDC’s Enterprise Infrastructure Practice, Ryan Meek, Technical Director for DataCore, and I analyze the criteria to focus on when evaluating object storage solutions. We cover the business and technology needs that object storage can address, the market drivers behind object storage adoption, the “build versus buy” debate, the different methods of storage, data and tenant management, and the characteristics to look for in object solutions to grow your business.
As always, until then if you have any questions, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.