The data explosion is here. Is your storage architecture ready to scale?

Skyrocketing data growth shows no signs of letting up. An IDC study published in May predicted the amount of digital information created annually will grow by a factor of 44 through 2020.[1] The study also found that the number of files, images, records and other digital information containers will grow by a factor of 67, while the number of IT professionals will grow by just a factor of 1.4. Can you do more with less (for the fifth straight year)?

These and similar findings underscore the need for storage architectures that can scale out quickly, easily, and affordably to absorb ever-larger amounts of data. This is particularly true if you’re operating a cloud computing environment that can grow in unpredictable ways.

So let’s look at a few design guidelines for your scale-out storage architecture.

Storage interfaces—Given the nature of scale-out storage and the explosion of storage requirements, it’s imperative to have interfaces that connect easily and seamlessly to your network. These interfaces should allow you to scale out with network-attached storage (NAS), direct-attached storage (DAS), iSCSI and network file storage (NFS)—whatever is best for the application. However, make sure you provide enough flexibility and interoperability to move to the “next” innovation.

Unified networking—A converged network based on 10Gb Ethernet (10GbE) has become the de facto standard for scale-out storage infrastructure. 10GbE allows you to leverage multiple storage interfaces and protocols, including Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) for connectivity to existing storage area networks (SANs), as well as NAS, DAS, NFS and iSCSI. 10GbE also provides interfaces to Microsoft, Oracle, VMware and other application environments.

Storage-object flexibility—Your network must have the flexibility to move diverse storage objects freely throughout your environment. This includes a range of new object types, such as video and tagged pictures. You also need to be able to work with tools from Microsoft, Cisco, EMC, Google and a host of open-source providers.

Storage architectures have not changed fundamentally in well over a decade but there are changes coming. These changes will maximize system administrator flexibility, tools and scale. I have always found that “understanding the future before it becomes today” provides you with the strongest set of tools to deliver for your customers (internal and external) and stakeholders.

Remember the adage, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”? In storage architectures that has never been more true than today. Capacity, flexibility and scale have a cost. Reduce your capital cost as much as possible today and invest in standards, people and process for tomorrow.

These architectural guidelines help ensure that your storage architecture won’t become a hindrance to the scaling and performance of your data center infrastructure—even when data growth is skyrocketing.

Are you ready? Let us know your thoughts….

[1] Source: “The Digital Universe Decade – Are You Ready?” IDC study by John Gantz and David Reinsel. May 2010.