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Early Observations from DCIG High-End Storage Array Research

DCIG recently refreshed its high-end storage array research and will publish the 2023-24 DCIG TOP 5 High-End Storage Arrays report in February. This article shares some changes in high-end storage that have emerged since the publication of the 2020-21 DCIG TOP 5 High End Storage Arrays report.

These advances include new capabilities or enhancements around:

  • Cyber resilience
  • Advances in using analytics (AIOps)
  • Cloud integration
  • Provision of object storage
  • Storage as a Service (STaaS)
  • Sustainability enhancements and reporting

Enhanced Cyber Resilience

Every enterprise storage vendor is addressing enterprise concerns around data security and cyber resilience especially the threat of ransomware.

As the chart below demonstrates, the majority of the high-end storage arrays have improved their security posture by implementing multiple technologies including FIPS 140-2, T10 PI, and multifactor authentication. Some have also gone through Common Criteria Certification and STIG hardening as part of qualifying for US Department of Defense (DoD) approval.

Chart of high-end storage array security technologies.

Immutable snapshots. Snapshots are a fundamental part of the backup and recovery process. As such, these snapshots are a prime target of cyber criminals. In response, almost all high-end storage arrays now provide immutable snapshot capabilities, and most incorporate backup to the cloud capabilities to provide the “different media” portion of the data protection puzzle.

Secure vault on array for rapid recovery. Some of the arrays now provide a secure vault that is inaccessible to application hosts. Snapshots are directed to the secure vault. This approach enhances both security and rapid recovery.

Infinidat takes this approach and guarantees recovery from its InfiniSafe vault in less than 1 minute. Some security firms have observed that many cyber-protection capabilities that are available have not been implemented by enterprises. Infinidat addresses this issue by pre-configuring the InfiniSafe vault according to its best practice recommendations.

Ransomware anomaly detection. For some time, DCIG has been asserting that it is only matter of when, not if, an organization experiences a ransomware attack. Every business leader should operate on the assumption that a cyber-attack will make it through the outer defenses and begin to encrypt data on the array. Some high-end storage arrays have implemented ransomware anomaly detection. For example, Huawei’s HyperDetect helps detect ransomware attacks in a timely manner and then minimizes the impact of the attack in three ways:

  • ransomware file interception (intercepts the writes of files infected by known ransomware, preventing the ransomware-encrypted file from being stored)
  • real-time ransomware detection (analyzes file I/O logs and if it detects ransomware-like behaviors, it creates a secure snapshot)
  • intelligent ransomware detection (machine learning algorithms compare each new snapshot with an existing secure snapshot, if it suspects a ransomware infection it marks the new snapshot as abnormal)
  • In any of these detection scenarios, HyperDect also alerts the storage administrator.

Advances in Using Analytics

Dynamic application performance optimization. In addition to using analytics to enhance cyber resilience, some high-end storage arrays use analytics to dynamically tune application performance in real-time based on quality of service (QoS) settings. This helps the organization honor its service level agreements (SLAs), keeps application owners and end users happy, reduces IT help desk calls, and enables the infrastructure to deliver the most bang for the buck.

Optimal data placement for performance vs cost. Some high-end storage arrays use analytics to determine the optimal placement and movement of data to achieve an optimal balance between performance and cost. NetApp has particular strengths in this area, especially for hybrid multicloud environments.

Proactive support. All the high-end storage vendors use analytics to enable some level of proactive support, starting with automated case creation based on fault data. Most have moved well beyond that basic use case to include cross-stack analytics for faster root cause analysis, capacity forecasting with an upgrade advisor function, and even workload modeling.

Other Advances

The providers of high-end storage arrays have incorporated many other advances into the offerings, including new capabilities or enhancements around:

  • Cloud integration
  • Provision of object storage
  • Storage as a Service (STaaS)
  • Sustainability enhancements and reporting

These advances, and more, will be described in the 2023-24 DCIG TOP 5 High-End Storage Arrays report that DCIG will release next month.

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To learn about DCIG’s forthcoming research and publications, see the DCIG Editorial Calendar.

Technology providers interested in licensing DCIG TOP 5 reports or having DCIG produce custom reports, please contact DCIG for more information.


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