Asking the Right Questions - New Storage Design

In the era of Software Defined Storage (SDS), the right questions need to be asked when the need for additional storage performance is required. The growth of virtualization in the enterprise has had a tremendous impact on storage performance and finances. It’s arguable that the biggest line item in most IT budgets is storage for performance reasons. In my opinion this has been a huge driver to the SDS movement today. The problem is that there are so many answers or solutions to what SDS is or isn’t. This only confuses the market and delays the true benefits of such a solution. It is with this notion that I believe we are on the cusp of something transformative.

There are several facets to SDS that could be discussed but the focus of this post surrounds the decoupling of storage performance from capacity.

It’s not uncommon to hear that storage performance is the biggest bottleneck for virtualization. This is one reason why we pay the big money for new arrays that promise a fix to this common problem. The reality is that it’s just a patch to the underlying design & architecture. In fact it has gotten so bad that some consumers have become blasé and a new normal has emerged. I often hear from virtual admins that they don’t have storage performance problems. It’s not till I dig deeper to find that their read/write latency is something of a surprise. An average of 15-20-Millisecond latency and spikes of more than 50-Millisecond is the reality!! How in the world did we get to this new normal? I personally believe we got to this because it’s either been cost prohibitive for many to do anything different and also until recently there hasn’t been a complete new architecture to answer storage performance problems in the market once and for all.

One analogy to this could be the smartphone phenomenon. Have you ever noticed how slow a previous smartphone generation seems when you pick it up after using your latest smartphone? It’s very easy to become accustom to something and have no idea what you’re missing. It’s with this that we need to recognize the new normal (microsecond latency) and understand what is possible!

Let’s breakdown 3 areas that makeup the storage framework at which we consume storage today in regards to virtualization. 



Characterized Attributes:

Performance = Read/Write Acceleration for I/O

Data Services = Replication, Dedupe, Snapshots, Tiering, Automation, Mgmt., etc.…

Capacity = Data-at-Rest, Storage Pool, Disk Size, Disk Type


Looking at each of these 3 areas that make up a typical storage array, where do you spend the most money today? What if you could separate these from each other, what possibilities could emerge?

As you know it’s the decoupling of Performance from Capacity that brings the biggest ROI and not surprisingly the most difficult to separate. It’s with this separation that allows us to move the performance of disk I/O to the compute cluster, close to the application. This means write acknowledgments happen very quickly and low latency can be achieved by leveraging local flash devices in the hosts as a new clustered data-in-motion tier! Aka – PernixData FVP



This new design no longer eludes a need to purchase storage just for performance reasons. It opens up a lot of other vendors and possibilities to choose from. Do you really need to purchase expensive storage now?  Does the promise of SDS and commodity storage now become a reality? Do you really need to purchase a hybrid or all flash array? Doesn’t this mean that cheap rotating SATA is all I need for capacity sake? If the array provides the needed data services on top of the capacity required, what else do I need to accomplish a true scale-out architecture for this new design? These are all important questions to ask in this new era of storage disruption.

If all all performance needs can now be accomplished and realized from the host cluster, then I now have the ability to achieve the 90-100% virtualized datacenter. This is a realization that often happens when this new design has had time to sink in. So, I challenge each of you to investigate not only how this can make you a hero in your environment but radically disrupt the time you save working on storage performance problems!


- Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or affiliated with PernixData or any other vendor -