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Why software storage is far less riskey to your buisness

I was talking to a customer who was worried about the risks of a software based storage system, but thinking back I keep thinking of all of the risks of buying “hardware” defined storage systems. Here’s a few situations over the years I’ve seen (I’m not picking on any of these vendors here, just explaining situations with context).

1. Customer buys IBM N-Series. Customers FAS unit hits year 4 of operation. Customer discovers support renewal for 1 year will cost 3x buying a new system. Drives have custom firmware and can not be purchased 2nd hand in event system needs emergency life support as tier 2 system.

Solution: Customer can extend support on HP/Dell Servers without ridiculous markups. StarWind/Vmware VSAN and other software solutions don’t care that your in “year 4”.

2. Customer has an old VNXe/VNX kit. Customer would like to use flash or scale up the device with lots and lots of drives. Sadly, The flare code running on this was not multi-threaded. Customer discovers that this critical feature is coming out but will require a forklift. Customer wonders why they were sold an array with multi-core processors that were bragged about when the core storage platform couldn’t actually use them. Flash storage pool is pegging out a CPU core and causing issues with the database.

Solution: Software companies want everyone on the new version. Most storage/software companies (VMware VSAN, Starwind etc.) include new features in the new version. Occasionally there will be something crazy good thats a added feature, but at least your not looking at throwing away all the disks (and investments in controllers) you’ve made just for a single much needed feature.

3. Customer bought MD3000i. One year later VMware puts out a new version, and fail over quits working on the MD3000i. Dell points out the device is end of support and LSI isn’t updating it. Customer gets sick of all path down situations and keeps their enviroment on an old ESXi release, realizing that their 2 year old array is an albatross.
Discussions of sketchy NFS front end kludge come up but in the end the customer is stuck.

Solution: Had another customer have this happen (Was with Datacore) but this customer was running it on COTS (DL180+´╗┐MSA’s stacked). Customer could easily switch to a different software/storage vendor (Starwind etc). In this case they were coming up on a refresh so we just threw on CentOS and turned the thing into a giant Veeam Target.

Software based storage fundamentally protects you from the #1 unpredictable element in storage. The vendor….