Is tiered storage really a technical disaster?

Tiered storage arrays stacked on top of each other

Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tiered storage is a bad strategic decision – at least that’s the opinion of Dave Cartwright writing for The Register.

In his article Real talk: Why are you hanging on to that non-performant disk?, Cartwright argues that the process of redeploying old hardware for secondary operations like file archiving and print serving is a mistake.

At the core of Cartwright’s concerns is the increased level of technical complexity created by maintaining several generations of storage arrays. He also complains that tiered storage leads to compromised performance because older, slower disk technologies are used alongside newer variants like all flash arrays.

What is the proposed solution?

According to Cartwright, the solution is to stop creating tiers, and to replace all of your on-site storage with flash technologies. In an ideal world, that would be fantastic – what kind of CTO would choose not to boost speed across their entire infrastructure?

But the reality is that all flash is still unaffordable. The cost of all flash arrays is falling, but this neglects secondary costs, like the disruption caused by replacing all of your storage in a greenfield deployment.

Simplifying tiering

The reality is that most organizations choose tiering because it offers incremental performance gains without additional capital spend. They believe that the increase in administrative overheads is more than offset by savings on new hardware and associated maintenance contracts.

And the truth is that concerns about increased technical complexity are misplaced when tiered storage is properly supported. With the assistance of a third party support and maintenance provider like CDS, problems of complexity become the problem of the service provider. Your in-house IT team is then freed to focus attention and resources on strategic projects

In an ideal world every CTO would choose a greenfield, all-flash environment. But in the real world, tiering is a perfectly acceptable way to balance increased storage and performance needs while simultaneously controlling costs.

To learn more about how CDS can help your business manage and thrive in a tiered storage environment, please get in touch.