The other day I woke up to a power outage in Westborough, MA, home of SimpliVity world headquarters, and where I happen to live. There was no snowstorm, no rain, no thunder and having seen one too many movies about the Apocalypse, I wondered for a moment, “Is this it?” like the character from the book “The Road” when the lights went out forever in his town.
I was obviously wrong, and it was just a plain ol’ power outage, but there is an Apocalypse coming, at least, for one technology – traditional hard-disk drive (HDD) shared storage.
I am certainly not going to be as brash as to say, “With x% confidence, I predict that by the year 20xx, only x% of enterprises will be using traditional shared storage for legacy applications.” Let’s face it, old infrastructure technologies can hang around for awhile—I should know since I marketed a granddaddy technology myself a few years back, HP-UX. That being said, the numbers don’t lie either. According to IDC, the slowdown of global spending on storage systems has started, with total factory revenues for external storage systems falling by almost 2% over the prior year period to $17.3 billion and for Q1 this year, they fell 5% lower than the comparable prior year period at $5.6 billion.
So why is there an impending Apocalypse for traditional shared storage?
First, most applications simply do not require it. Applications “born in the cloud” like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Salesforce are architected to deliver resiliency at the application layer, and can work quite happily on a JBOD-based architecture on commodity servers with flash drives for performance. Traditional enterprise applications, like Microsoft Exchange, OLTP, and even newer workloads like VDI, run perfectly well on new hyperconverged infrastructure platforms like SimpliVity, which is less costly and more efficient.
Second, in a virtualized world, the architecture of traditional shared storage is obsolete. This is coming from someone who spent a good portion of her career in tech espousing the value of shared storage (“shared storage good, captive storage in your server bad, very bad”). An architecture built on the concept of a LUN no longer makes sense in a world where the majority of applications run on VMs. Virtualization unlocked all of this great new functionality, like the ability to move VMs between servers, but it was still not practical in many cases when a single LUN could have multiple VMs associated to it. The reasons that also made storage captive in your server bad, no longer applies in a software-defined world, where a world-class infrastructure optimized for VM environments can be built on commodity x86 servers.
Third, traditional shared storage is just way too expensive to procure, deploy, and maintain. According to source Wikibon, storage accounts for 37% of the CAPEX budget and 62% of the OPEX budget at many enterprises. Except for the people who are responsible for the care and feeding of traditional shared storage, most folks in IT are just plain sick and tired of it. It is no wonder that most IT leaders understand that one of the biggest opportunities for CAPEX and OPEX savings comes from reducing their investment in traditional shared storage and associated infrastructure like the SAN.
Forward thinking IT leaders and teams fundamentally get it. A great case in point was a recent example of large enterprise that adopted SimpliVity’s hyperconverged infrastructure. The storage admin recognized that traditional shared storage was no longer meeting the needs of the organization, both from a technology and economic point of view. He championed introducing hyperconverged infrastructure into the organization and as a result, he was promoted and now has the VM admin reporting to him!
So in the face of the impending Apocalypse for traditional shared storage, we all have choices. One choice is to hug your traditional shared storage tight and hold on to the bitter end, whenever that may come. The other choice is to acknowledge that traditional shared storage had its day, and it is now time to embrace all that alternative infrastructure options, like hyperconverged infrastructure, have to offer.