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How to solve your storage nightmare

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As organisations start to virtualise more of their data centre, they are faced with increasing complexity and latency issues, writes Mark Young, director of systems engineering: EMEA at Tintri.
Virtualisation offers huge benefits, with promises of greater IOPS and performance but many businesses are struggling to take advantage of this.
With storage providers shouting about the latest SSD, flash, Open Source, hyperconverged and hybrid solutions – IT admins face a world of endless options. Ultimately every business will have different needs, whether this is speed, performance, capacity, management or quality of service.
However, when moving into a virtualised environment businesses need to opt for a solution which can seamlessly operate at the VM-level. Legacy storage is ill equipped to deal with this; it was build decades ago before virtualisation existed.
Whether businesses are looking for simplified management, cost savings, or the latest flash solution to enhance performance and speed – you will only be able to leverage the benefits in a virtualised environment if your storage can operate at the VM-level.
When it comes to opting for a new storage system, the process can be slow and tedious, but IT admins need to know what they are getting before they commit. The key to avoiding a storage nightmare is to research the market extensively.
No matter how flashy storage seems, only storage built for VMs can actually provide the resources each individual VM needs in a virtualised environment. Unlike traditional storage, VM-aware architecture can work at the VM level to provide each VM with its own I/O lane and pool of resources.
The two biggest storage bottlenecks when it comes to storing data in a virtualised environment are performance and management. Virtual environments generate far more random I/O patterns than physical ones. While there are faster legacy storage solutions with added flash, they still have a fundamental limitation, as their approach is conventional LUN and volume based.
Flash storage puts a lot of IOPS at an organisation’s disposal, but it needs to know where to put the flash to work. Although businesses are paying more to increase speed and IOPS, the storage admin needs to see the performance of each individual VM in order to resolve the data centre disconnect. With flash, businesses are paying more to gain higher speeds but performance will still lag if the system cannot operate at the VM level.
IT will continue to come under increasing pressure as more and more workloads become virtualised. Organisations need to ensure they have the right IT infrastructure in place to offer performance, agility and simplified management. Looking beyond the traditional storage vendors and testing these claims of greater performance and IOPS will go a long way in helping IT admins to avoid being swept up by the hype.
The key is to remember, you don’t necessarily get what is promised on the box. IT admins need to know exactly how solutions work to ensure their IT infrastructure can operate seamlessly at the VM-level in order to take advantage of a fully virtualised environment.
Value-added distributor, Networks Unlimited, distributes Tintri’s storage solutions for the virtual enterprise across 20 African countries.