1: RAID – Prior to RAID users stored their data on disk and if they
could afford it, they backed that data up to have a protected copy of
their data. When RAID came out, users were able to store their data on
multiple disks appearing as one device. The benefits to this were,
increased data reliability, better performance. This new technology
however, fundamentally changed how disk was sold, but the questions were
- How much capacity do you need?
- What type of performance does your application require?
sales reps point of view changed. There were a number of new
considerations that needed to be taken into account. First, the age old
question, “Will I sell less storage “stuff?” Remember the person, at
the time, selling the disk was probably also selling the backup tape and
software to protect that information. If the disks are more reliable,
maybe the customer won’t need as much tape? Second, when the capacity
question came up, the seller also needed to know what type of RAID the
customer wanted to ensure they sold them enough drives. It was no
longer as simple as asking the capacity requirements and dividing it by
the drive capacity at the time. Now depending upon RAID levels there
was a new set of math that needed to be done. Third was the notion of
performance and more spindles meant more performance so now that the
capacity equation was solved for, you also needed to know the I/O
requirements in order to make sure the right number of drives were sold
to solve for the capacity as well as the performance.
what, we figured it out and the industry never looked back. RAID is a
defacto standard in all storage subsystems today, I even run RAID in my
home. The business benefits of having RAID far outweighed the costs.
In fact, it is probably one of the first times in storage history that
the question of, “how can you afford not to have it”, came up.
2: Virtual Machines – When VMware came out the value proposition was,
do more work, with less physical infrastructure. And again, the
business benefits far outweighed the technology hurdle of implementing
the new solution.
in mind that it is much harder to change process in IT than it is to
change technology, IT decided that this new way of serving up processing
power to applications was well worth all of the process changes that it
would require. One example, backup would need to change when
implementing virtual server technology. The data would grow 4x and the
processing of that information for backup would take longer, in a world
where time was all to valuable. However the business benefit justified
Again, the sellers questions were consistent:
- How many virtual servers do you need? (Capacity)
- What type of performance do you need for each virtual server?
answers to these questions allowed a sales rep to configure the right
number of physical systems to handle the right number of systems to make
the line of business successful. Additionally, some of the same
considerations came up. “Will I sell less server and make less money?”
Now that there was new server technology (more processors, the ability
to handle more memory) systems could be bigger, and more expensive.
Sellers also needed to know a bit more about “capacity”, how many
virtual systems could a physical system run successfully? They also
needed to have an understanding of performance. Now sellers were
configuring systems to run the equivalent of 20 to 100 servers on one
Today I would suggest that we are at a cross roads in history. New technology has come along that will have a significant impact
on the storage world. First, research from IBM reflects the fact that
disk drives can no longer keep getting two times as dense for half the
cost as they had been throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The
technology doesn’t exist today to make the drives spin faster, stay cool
and not loose data. Until now. Real-time compression is
a game changing technology that will add significant value to the
storage industry without having to change the way IT thinks about the
deployment of their storage.
is growing at such a significant pace today and with the latest IBM
research about disk capacities, something needs to change. Data centers
are just running out of space and more customers want to keep more data
on line for reasons such as competitive edge or compliance, but no
matter the reason, they want access to their information. Enter
real-time compression. Now there is a fundamental difference between
real-time compression and other compression technologies and compression
implementations but I am not going get into it here, but it is safe to
say that post process and in-line compression are very different than
real-time compression and users can’t get the benefits of improved
primary storage capacity, transparently, with no performance impact with
anything but real-time compression technology.
real-time compression, like other game changing technology, doesn’t
require any new questions; there are just simply a new set of math
- How much capacity is required?
- What is the performance requirement?
time, real-time compression will be as ubiquitous as RAID, and just
like users don’t think that much about RAID, users won’t need to think
about compression. Compression will become an expected feature of the
array. It doesn’t matter that it now takes fewer drives to satisfy the
original question around capacity and performance. With data growing as
fast as it is and with disks not being able to keep up their growth
pace, something needs to change and that something is real-time
compression. Soon, it won’t matter what the physical disk capacity is
of a disk drive, it will be about a disks virtual disk capacity, what it
has the capability of storing that matters. It is time we all started
thinking this way.