How Enterprise Storage Arrays are Adapting to Meet Changing Business Requirements

Over the last five years, what mid-sized enterprises expect from their technology infrastructures has changed significantly. Data and the continuous availability of the systems that provide that data are critical to virtually all business operations. Beyond operations, we have entered a period of digital transformation where data has become a tactical and even strategic resource. Data is the foundation for value creation. Enterprise storage systems are changing in a variety of ways to address enterprise expectations for continuous availability, greater capacity, and the performance required to support critical workloads.
DCIG has recently updated its research on enterprise storage and beginning in the first quarter of 2020 will publish a series of reports based on this research. This article draws on that research to reveal how these storage systems are providing new levels of storage capacity, density and high-speed connectivity.

Continuous Availability

Five years ago, a discussion of availability features would typically focus on the ability of a storage system to continue serving data in the face of hard drive, cooling fan and controller failures. While these foundational features are still important, current conversations about availability are more likely to focus on proactive support enabled by predictive analytics, or on cloud-based intelligence that avoids downtime by taking the entire operating environment into consideration to either recommend or black-list particular software and firmware updates.

Capacity and Density

The raw capacity and storage density provided by midrange storage arrays have greatly increased over the past five years, as illustrated by the following charts. The majority of today’s enterprise storage arrays can provide more than 3 PB of raw storage capacity. More than one-third of them can provide more than 10 PB of storage in a single system.

chart showing growth in storage capacity
Soure: DCIG

A similar dynamic applies to storage density. Increases in the capacity of individual hard disk drives and solid-state drives (SSD), along with new high-density enclosures, have resulted in major increases in the amount of data that can be stored per rack unit. HDD capacity has more than doubled over the last five years. Changes in SSD capacity are more dramatic. Five years ago, the largest SSD that most arrays supported had a capacity of 400 TB. Today, most arrays support 7.68 TB SSDs, and more than a third support 15.36TB SSDs. Enterprises embracing this high density storage are achieving substantial savings in data center floor space.
chart showing dramatic growth in storage density
Source: DCIG

Fast Storage Network Connectivity

Storage vendors are embracing faster storage networking connectivity in order to keep up with these increases in storage capacity and density. Nearly half of all arrays now support Ethernet connectivity of greater than 10 Gb, and 65% support 32 Gb Fibre Channel. Complimenting these increases in storage network speeds, nearly 75% have adopted 12 Gb SAS connectivity to the drives and drive trays.

chart of changes in storage network connectivity
Source: DCIG

While enterprises certainly care about much more than “speeds and feeds”, these provide the foundation upon which advanced capabilities that enable digital transformation are based. Future articles and reports will address the advanced capabilities that enterprise storage systems bring to the table to create new value for the enterprises that deploy them.
DCIG will continue to cover developments in enterprise storage. If you haven’t already done so, please signup for the weekly DCIG Newsletter so that we can keep you informed of these developments.

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