7( Seven) important Tips for Improving Data Storage Efficiency

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Today’s practice proves that storage networking, server-side flash, network caching, software-defined storage, all-flash, and hybrid arrays help improve storage performance and efficiency.

IT professionals often work on improving storage performance to ensure applications get the resources they need to run.

Some businesses use hard disk technology, which means it is expensive to use and inefficient, such as splitting data across dozens (or hundreds) of hard disks, then formatting those drives, and only half of the hard disk capacity is available for the application.

Today, more economical flash memory is expected to break the application performance bottleneck of storage devices for the foreseeable future.
To get the most out of flash, one needs to implement it in the right way and with the right technology.

In this way, the highest performance and greater efficiency can be extracted from the overall solid-state storage deployment and storage network.
For active data,

for example, flash memory can provide better performance with fewer moving parts than hard drives. As a result, for major data use cases, especially for long-term use, flash is often cheaper to deploy than hard drives.

The problem with solid-state storage is that only about 5 to 10 percent of data center data is active.

So users can save some money and store the remaining 90% or more on larger capacity, lower cost hard drives, or increasingly in the cloud.
Flash memory does not necessarily improve data storage efficiency and performance alone.
Users need to start with a solid foundation, and here are seven tips to improve data storage efficiency, making storage faster and more efficient.
(1) Improve storage network
Latency in HDD-based systems does not expose weaknesses in the network, and while it does, flash-based systems are, and before upgrading to flash storage or adding

additional SSDs to an existing system, the storage network should be maximized first. performance.
The network to consider has three components: the server, the host bus adapter (HBA) or network interface card (NIC) in the storage system, the network switch, and the cabling infrastructure.

It’s easy to see the bandwidth capabilities of the first two components (NICs/HBAs and switches), which should deploy at least 10Gbps or 16Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) or faster.

While bandwidth is important, so is latency and delivery quality. Most data centers do not generate enough sequential transactions to overwhelm high-speed networks.

Instead, they generate millions of small businesses.
The network moves these transactions from servers to storage and back again, which is critical to extracting maximum performance from flash investments.
(2) Data storage efficiency and performance
In the storage world, efficiency and performance are diametrically opposed forces, as efficiency often adds value at the expense of performance.
Many of the techniques that people use to improve the efficiency of data storage, such as thin provisioning, deduplication, and compression, actually hurt storage system performance.

Flash storage creates a middle ground between efficiency and performance
. Yes, using these techniques hurts performance on flash memory just like they do on hard drives. But because flash performance is so high, it often provides too many performance cycles.

Therefore, from the user’s point of view, running the usual data storage efficiency routines will not significantly affect performance.
Cabling is also critical and often overlooked factor in storage network performance and data storage efficiency.

Users should build cabling infrastructure on fiber to support the high bandwidth and low latency capabilities of current and next-generation networks, and structure it to easily determine port assignments.

Also, you need to understand the “link loss budget,” which is the amount of signal lost between connections.
Once the user has fine-tuned the storage network, a flash storage deployment should be considered.

(3) Implement server-side flash memory

In a server-side flash design, the network and storage setup connected to this network remains the same, essentially installing a hard-drive-based storage array where the speed and quality of the storage network are not as important as when implementing a shared flash array.

However, how server-side flash is utilized may vary.

The design with the least impact on the network is to isolate the server flash.

Here, the user-installed SSD or flash PCIe card is only responsible for the I/O of that server.

The server itself can become a single point of failure, so this use case is only suitable for reading caching of data stored on a shared storage array.
In contrast, server-side flash technology aggregates internal flash storage from multiple servers to create a virtual flash pool.

These server-side flash aggregation products are suitable for reading and writing caching, and even for the storage layer.

However, they introduce a networking factor in terms of performance, as aggregation requires the networking to create virtual storage pools.
(4) Deploy network cache

Unlike storage system upgrades, which only improve the performance of a single system, network caching improves the performance of every storage system on the network.

These devices basically sit between the storage system and the server, caching the most active data.
Many network caches are available in high-availability configurations, making them suitable for caching read and write I/O.

Users can also resize network caches to make flash storage areas large enough to store an organization’s entire active data set, essentially converting existing arrays into archive and data protection storage systems.

An important benefit of network caching is the ability to improve storage performance without replacing current data protection policies and procedures.

These processes will remain the same as the data will now be on the cache and original storage system.

At this point, it’s important to look for network caches that can programmatically flush the cache before the snapshot or backup job begins.
The quality of the network infrastructure and its components should also be considered before deployment.

(5) Implement software-defined storage (SDS) using small form factor flash arrays
Another option to improve storage performance and data storage efficiency are to use software-defined storage (SDS).

These products run on an appliance or hypervisor and provide a common set of storage software functions on a variety of hardware arrays.

Some software-defined storage (SDS) systems can leverage existing storage hardware and provide automatic migration of data between them.

If a small flash array is added to existing infrastructure, SDS can be used to automatically move the most active datasets to the array to improve performance and, as an added benefit, simplify management as all storage management then becomes unified.
(6) Optimize the application

Before implementing a new or enhancing an existing storage system, carefully examine the applications you are going to run.

Many storage professionals find this daunting because they neither own the application nor understand the code surrounding it.

The good news is that there are programs available that examine application code, provide high-quality analysis, and make specific recommendations on what and where to change.

While it’s possible to skip this step, it leads to more hardware issues.
Code-related performance issues may be masked by high-performance storage, but it will not allow flash to reach its full potential, forcing administrators to look for other potential performance penalties, such as storage networking.

It is even possible to avoid the need for flash in the first place or reduce the need to buy a flash, until the flash repair code is implemented.
(7) Purchase a new all-flash or hybrid array
This is ideal for data centers deploying existing HDD-based systems that still have a useful life, covered by the original warranty, so users can redeploy these aging HDD systems and expand with new flash arrays .

However, at some point, users need to purchase some new storage systems.

That means choosing between all-flash or hybrid arrays.

The initial decision was relatively simple: if an organization can provide an all-flash array that meets its capacity requirements (and it can be assumed that the performance requirements will be met),

then go ahead and buy it without hesitation.
However, many organizations will not find a flash array that fits their budget.

They can get roughly the same benefits as an all-flash array without this investment level by opting for a hybrid array, combining flash and HDDs into the

same system, and then automatically moving data between them through software.
People may be more concerned about cache misses for hybrid arrays, which is a thing of the past.

This is a concern when flash capacity is so expensive that the flash tier of hybrid arrays accounts for less than 5% of total storage capacity.
Today, the flash tier is typically 25% of capacity, which will significantly reduce the chance of cache misses.
In conclusion, the path to improved storage performance does not start with an all-flash investment.
It starts with a careful examination of the entire storage network.

Once that’s done, there are a number of other storage performance and data storage efficiency enhancement options to consider, including some types of flash storage deployments.

Which products are the best way to work in a data center, and some IT departments may not even need to upgrade their storage systems.

By aamritri

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