The number of storage arrays that have a starting price point under $5,000 has grown substantially in the last few years. But the adoption of these systems is being largely fueled by their low price point even as features such as availability, performance and scalability are in some way sacrificed. The one notable exception to this trend is the Gridstore GS-1000 which also offers this attractive entry-level price point but does not require SMBs to sacrifice any of these features.
Affordable storage arrays intended for use by SMBs have been a point of emphasis in DCIG’s research in the last year. Yet what DCIG has found in completing its research on these storage arrays is that they are typically limited in the following two ways:
- One storage controller. All storage arrays under $5,000 are configured with only one storage controller. These single storage controller systems pose a significant availability concern since if they fail for some reason (power outage, human error, component failure) all applications accessing data on that storage array will experience some level of interruption or even an outage. Further, they provide only a fixed amount of processing capability and lack the ability to scale this feature.
- Fixed amount of capacity. These storage arrays can only scale to hold a specific amount of storage capacity. Once that threshold is reached, a new storage array must be added making storage increasingly complex to manage. Administrators may have to migrate data from one storage array to another, put some application data on each storage array and the performance of the application may differ significantly depending on which storage array the data resides.
Yet these storage array solutions persist for a couple of reasons. They have been in use for years and, maybe more importantly from the perspective of SMBs, their price point is under $5000. So SMBs live with these limitations so they can implement a storage array they can afford.
The Gridstore GS-1000 changes this model. Like these other storage arrays, the GS-1000 starts at under $5,000 so it is affordable. However it does not force SMBs to sacrifice the other characteristics that they want their storage solutions to possess (availability, performance or scalability) just so they can implement a storage solution that fits within their budget.To achieve this seemingly contradictory feat of delivering the features of availability, performance and scalability without running up the price of its solution, Gridstore provides what is referred to as a “virtual controller.”
Rather than including a physical storage controller with its solution, Gridstore implemented a virtual controller that is deployed as software on the application servers access its multiple storage nodes. This technique enables parallel I/O from a number of virtual controllers (as many as 100 or more) while simultaneously enabling it to scale capacity, bandwidth and processing by adding more storage nodes.
In so doing, Gridstore moves the performance load normally placed on the storage array controller to the individual application servers. But as it does so, Gridstore also gives SMBs access to the same availability and capacity features once reserved for much more costly enterprise storage arrays.
In the case of availability, since each application server functions as a virtual controller, the virtual controller evenly distributes application data to all available Gridstore nodes. So should any Gridstore node become unavailable for whatever reason processing does not stop as it does on a single controller storage array. Rather the Gridstore virtual controller quickly recovers the data that the application needs to ensure its uninterrupted availability.
Similarly, because a virtual controller may access any Gridstore storage node, the capacity limitations associated with single controller storage arrays also disappear. Using virtual controllers, SMBs can continue to seamlessly add more Gridstore storage nodes so Gridstore can scale to tens or even hundreds of terabytes depending on the requirements.
As it scales to this amount Gridstore still functions as a single logical storage system. This eliminates islands of stranded storage capacity, the need for administrators to rebalance data across storage arrays or migrate data from one storage array to another as they normally do.
SMBs have more choices than ever before when it comes to storage arrays that list for under $5,000. The question then becomes, “How many really good options do they have when features like availability, performance and scalability are factored in?”
The Gridstore GS-1000 gives them that “Good option” that today’s SMBs need. By starting at under $5,000, Gridstore provides SMB the affordable entry level price point that they need. In so doing, it combines the economics of small storage arrays with the access to unparalleled levels of availability, capacity, performance and reliability that were once exclusively reserved for storage arrays that cost in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.