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Which Computer Storage Units Should You Rely on This Year?

April 21, 2017

Which Computer Storage Units Should You Rely on This Year?

Making that choice comes down to helping them understand their storage needs in terms of both capacity and the how, when, and where of accessing that data location. Then you should look at the storage options that best fit those needs.

Considering Computer Storage Units

Flash and SSDs

Flash has become a regular feature within servers, in hybrid hard disk/flash storage arrays and in all-flash arrays. While all-flash arrays have been an expensive alternative, the introduction of enterprise-class solid-state drives (SSDs) based on consumer-grade multi-level-cell flash has brought the cost down. The many benefits inherent to utilizing SSDs  for SMBs as well as enterprises are pretty clear, but not every solution works for every circumstance, so it’s imperative to understand exactly what you want to do in the near term and the long term.

The Cloud

Private, public, virtual private cloud (VPC), software-defined storage (SDS), hybrid disk, and cloud storage all have their benefits and drawbacks. The size of your client’s business and budget, as well as the client’s storage needs, can turn what would be a drawback into a benefit and vice versa. Public cloud storage continues to play a big part for businesses of all sizes that use it for cold storage or as part of software development lifecycle (SDLC), among others.

Network-Attached Storage (NAS)

NAS provides fast, simple, reliable access to data in an IP networking environment. Easy to deploy, centrally manage, and consolidate, NAS solutions can be as basic as a single hard drive with an Ethernet port or built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.

This can scale to an NAS solution that includes multiple hard drives in a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) level 1 array. On the high end, NAS storage has been scaled out by manufacturers to as many as four petabytes for enterprise use with automatic load balancing.

These features enable businesses to scale performance and capacity in order to fit need and growth. This move to consolidate and virtualize on-premises storage is part of a general trend to make more efficient use of data center storage, in order to accommodate increasing volumes of data and reduce costs. This is also where a number of techniques can contribute to that cause, like:

  • Deduplication (one-copy storage while replacing duplicates with pointers)
  • Thin provisioning (maximizing storage utilization by creating logical units from a common pool)
  • Automatic tiered storage (moving data between different types of storage in order to optimize space, performance, and cost requirements)

Hard Drives

As has been often stated, hard disk drives (HDDs) aren’t going away anytime soon, due to their competitive costs, performance, and entrenchment. While SSDs are now beating or rivaling them on every front, newer developments like shingled magnetic recording, which uses overlapping write tracks in order to roughly double data density, and helium-filled hard drives will add some life to HDD.

Tape Backup

Tape backup software is still a viable and in-use alternative for many businesses due to its long-term and limitless scaling possibilities as an off-site storage solution for business continuity and disaster recovery for small to medium-sized businesses.

Making the Choice

When it comes to computer storage units to rely on in 2016, your choices depend on your client’s business, need, and usage. Businesses and enterprises with a small or large contingent of laptops and desktops will look to SSDs, but they will also look to the cloud for additional storage options.

While enterprises will pursue a hybrid strategy where on-premises requirements of security, performance, and regulatory requirements can be met, they continue to use HDDs and increasingly invest in SSDs as part of their hybrid strategy. The cloud will still be a part of the mix with those in need of extreme control and security turning to private clouds.

Ultimately, choosing the computer storage units to rely on in 2016 is highly subjective and requires consultation with a value-added reseller that fully understands the uses and benefits of all options. Armed with a deep understanding of your client’s business and need, you can help your client make the right decision for today and tomorrow.