Posts Tagged ‘commodity’

What next for storage?

December 11th, 2012

Storage vendors have been very inventive over the years, creating some very interesting technologies: unified controllers, wide striping, various snapshot techniques, capacity efficiencies, etc. etc. But where has the key innovations been recently? Is it enough to have fancy features and technology? Is this what customers are even asking for?

The primary use case I still see for vendors is virtualisation, but you can probably suggest that databases are still a key business requirement for most organisations, and whatever we’re told, databases are still physical. So is there any major benefit in having fancy technology at the back-end of the storage with virtualisation in front?

Scale-Out Storage

Scale-Out Storage

First lets look at the database, as this is a relatively easy one to address. You could suggest that tiering is a great technology for databases, most data is historic and not read actively, most intensive applications will be accessing a small data set. But this is assuming that an application is written correctly and you aren’t doing full table scans, this is also assuming that you are regularly access this relatively small working set and that its predictable. Another key element is the high write throughout of logs and temporary databases. Tiering may fix a few use cases for data tiering of databases data, but it makes me feel uncomfortable and its not predictable, but this doesn’t fix my write requirements which require something with good write performance.

Really, to make the best use of a database you still need to be manually controlling the data and the disk configuration. High performance flash technology for write workloads, and split the database files up so that the active working set can always be addressed from flash also. This will not only give much more predictable performance, it should in many circumstances be as efficient and as dynamic as any tiering technology, just without the downsides (of which there are a few).

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