When someone asks me, “Mark, now tell me exactly what is the new way to store?” I like to offer VMware as an analogy. That company radically altered the way we viewed modern computing. It ushered in a new way to do computing because it fundamentally and irrevocably separated hardware and operational software elements in the compute environment. The same thing can happen with storage. Sure, storage has dabbled in virtualization for decades but in the end it’s still largely built on proprietary hardware and singular solutions that aren’t scalable. There was no underpinning of infrastructure that was like a hypervisor where you could run different service levels and infrastructures. If you wanted a flash array, here you go. A SCSI array? It’s over here. While we’re at it, let’s stack this on top of that and shove this over here and spackle it all together.

            The New Way to Store is all about simplicity, flexibility, control and convergence. It’s modern, revolutionary virtualization technology that provides block, file and object storage across flash, disk and cloud storage media. It has data deduplication, QOS, disaster recovery, data tiering and archiving in one converged platform. If you look at data storage today (excluding tape), it’s made up of two nonvolatile storage media: disk and flash. That’s it. Yet we have literally hundreds of different types of storage arrays. When it comes to MIPS, the industry has coalesced around x86 architecture. For the most part, we run voice, video and data on one network that we call Ethernet. If we’re only talking about disk and flash, why make it so complicated?

            Instead, we have the weirdness of storage where vendors think legacy compatibility is layering arrays on top of arrays. You wouldn’t run a new OS on top of a legacy OS, would you? When Linux first came on the scene, did we all say, “Oh, Linux is great but it’ll have to run on top of Windows.” Nope. Another analogy for the storage morass we’re in is what I call the overmedication analogy. You go to the doctor to treat a condition and you get a pill. But that pill gives you a stomach ache. So the doctor then gives you another pill to treat your symptoms. Yet that pill for your stomach ache makes you dizzy. So, you get another pill to fix those symptoms, too. And so on. This is how enterprise storage operates now.

            Thirty years ago when one gigabyte of storage cost $100,000, it made economic sense to develop specialized hardware and software. But what about now, when a gigabyte of storage costs a penny? Not so much. We can do better, far better in storage. And we can do it all 100 percent in software.


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