News
1/7/2010
02:52 PM
George Crump
George Crump
Commentary
50%
50%

Do We Need Tier 1 Storage?

Tiered storage often means the development of a storage strategy that moves data from fast, expensive storage to slower SATA based storage. Tiered storage can also refer to the quality of the storage. A tier 1 storage system may have a higher level of reliability and DR functionality than a tier 2 system. The delta between the quality and capabilities of these tiers is quickly eroding, which makes the question a fair one to ask.

Tiered storage often means the development of a storage strategy that moves data from fast, expensive storage to slower SATA based storage. Tiered storage can also refer to the quality of the storage. A tier 1 storage system may have a higher level of reliability and DR functionality than a tier 2 system. The delta between the quality and capabilities of these tiers is quickly eroding, which makes the question a fair one to ask.When using "tier" to refer to the quality and capability of the system the focus often centers on a tier 1 storage platform. This is most often thought of in terms of large monolithic systems traditionally supplied by EMC and HDS. These systems often build out one frame at a time with drives being added to the frame as capacity is needed. The systems often have advanced software and backend storage interconnects to offer extremely high performance and reliability. Their use is often confined to data centers with extreme uptime requirements and performance needs.

Tier 2 systems offered by companies like NetApp, Xiotech, Compellent and Nexsan are typically represented by more modular systems where capacity is added to a storage compute engine one shelf at a time. These shelves typically have the drives pre-installed. These systems often have moderate storage software with moderate storage interconnects. The scaling and performance of these architectures is significantly greater than it used to be. As a result tier 2 systems often meet the storage I/O needs of many data centers. Eventually however there can be a limit when scaling. At some point capacity or I/O demands could outstrip the capabilities of the storage compute engine. This used to mean either the addition of an additional storage system or the upgrade to a tier 1 storage platform.

Blurring the line is systems with more clustered architectures like those from 3PAR, Isilon and Pillar Data. Even EMC has jumped into more of a clustered storage approach with their VMAX architectures. Clustered storage systems address the limitations of modular and eventually even monolithic systems by offering greater scale and performance. Most of these systems can grow performance and capacity independently. The result is that sophisticated scalable architectures are no longer the sole domain of tier 1 storage.

If performance and scale are no longer the sole property of tier 1 storage the remaining differentiation then becomes how does the software differentiate itself. The expectation of tier 1 storage systems is that they will offer non-disruptive upgradability, a resilient architecture that can maintain performance during failure and a multi-site, multi-mode disaster recovery capability.

For example the capability to replicate data synchronously (mirrored) to a second location miles away, then from that second location replicate (asynchronously) to a third location hundreds of miles away. The challenge is first that not every data center needs this kind of reliability and if they do companies like 3PAR, NetApp and others are closing the gap on the software side to bring this type of advanced functionality to the other storage tiers.

When tier one storage vendors start using standard hardware and more common interconnect architectures like clustering, the focus centers on the quality of the storage software. If the software capabilities of what is traditionally considered tier 2 or clustered storage closes the gap between its tier 1 software counterparts, you are left wondering why use tier 1 storage at all or at least including more vendors in the tier 1 designation.

Track us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/storageswiss

Subscribe to our RSS feed.

George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, January 2015
To find and fix exploits aimed directly at your business, stop waiting for alerts and become a proactive hunter.
Flash Poll
10 Recommendations for Outsourcing Security
10 Recommendations for Outsourcing Security
Enterprises today have a wide range of third-party options to help improve their defenses, including MSSPs, auditing and penetration testing, and DDoS protection. But are there situations in which a service provider might actually increase risk?
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-3580
Published: 2014-12-18
The mod_dav_svn Apache HTTPD server module in Apache Subversion 1.x before 1.7.19 and 1.8.x before 1.8.11 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and server crash) via a REPORT request for a resource that does not exist.

CVE-2014-6076
Published: 2014-12-18
IBM Security Access Manager for Mobile 8.x before 8.0.1 and Security Access Manager for Web 7.x before 7.0.0 FP10 and 8.x before 8.0.1 allow remote attackers to conduct clickjacking attacks via a crafted web site.

CVE-2014-6077
Published: 2014-12-18
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in IBM Security Access Manager for Mobile 8.x before 8.0.1 and Security Access Manager for Web 7.x before 7.0.0 FP10 and 8.x before 8.0.1 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that insert XSS sequences.

CVE-2014-6078
Published: 2014-12-18
IBM Security Access Manager for Mobile 8.x before 8.0.1 and Security Access Manager for Web 7.x before 7.0.0 FP10 and 8.x before 8.0.1 do not have a lockout period after invalid login attempts, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain admin access via a brute-force attack.

CVE-2014-6080
Published: 2014-12-18
SQL injection vulnerability in IBM Security Access Manager for Mobile 8.x before 8.0.1 and Security Access Manager for Web 7.x before 7.0.0 FP10 and 8.x before 8.0.1 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via unspecified vectors.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.