Scale-out storage architecture: It’s your data security blanket

Top considerations when architecting your scale-out data protection infrastructure

By 2022, more than 80 percent of enterprise data will be stored in scale-out storage systems in enterprise and cloud data centers, a big jump up from 40 percent in 2018, according to Gartner.1 Scale-out architecture has been predominantly used for primary storage. Enterprises are now looking to extend this architecture to secondary storage, data protection and management solutions to leverage the benefits of better performance, cost control and availability.

Traditionally, enterprises accomplished secondary storage, data protection and management with scale-up architectures and point products. Those solutions still work, but as organizations seek greater agility and resilience the IT industry is clearly making a shift to a scale-out approach. This brief will examine how scale-out data management solutions can support initiatives such as digital transformation and budget control. It will also cover what IT should be thinking about when planning for business growth and how best to use a scale-out strategy for their advantage.

IT managers and architects these days are feeling a little like college kids leaving home for the first time. They cherish the newly found independence and the unlimited horizon ahead but they still want a strong tie to home base. Transitioning from scale-up to scale-out for secondary storage or data protection and management can be a little scary, like leaving home. However, executed on-premises, and offering the benefits of web-like, virtually unlimited scalability, scale-out architecture doesn’t have to be scary. Think of it as your data home, offering cloudlike services, greater availability and easy application portability – on-premises.

In this brief, we will explore the relative values of scale-up to scale-out and what you should be thinking about when considering a move to a scale-out secondary storage or data protection and management platform.

Digital transformation and scale-up versus scale-out

Digital transformation comes with an exponential growth in data workloads and a need to backup, archive, protect and manage that data.

Digital transformation has to pair with IT infrastructure transformation to be successful, as Search Storage noted: “At a high level, IT infrastructure transformation is all about becoming better and more efficient at allocating budget and resources to new projects and markets, and making the cost of managing day-to-day infrastructure easier and cheaper.”5

To accommodate digital transformation, the decision point for IT is whether continuing with a scale-up architecture can be an effective solution.

Here are some key questions to ask when evaluating options to scale-up versus scale-out:

  • How is your current secondary storage or data protection and management being handled?
  • Is it adequate to address the addition of new digital technologies?
  • Have you and your IT team planned for new investment in secondary storage to support increased workloads?
  • Are you at capacity and having to add servers?
  • Are backup and recovery times slowing or not meeting SLAs?
  • Are you having to regularly refresh appliance-based data protection and disaster recovery solutions, costing you time and money?

Architecting for digital transformation cannot be “business as usual” with traditional scale-up and point products. The added costs, lower performance and IT staff time is inadequate to support increased workloads. As a result, IT is changing its approach and moving to a scale-out architecture to meet its performance and budget requirements.

Scale-out and data management

A main driver in moving to scale-out architecture for secondary storage, and data protection and management, is that it further optimizes the use of standard, general-purpose hardware to deliver greater resiliency and performance. Integrated compute and storage hardware platforms are emerging as the preferred platform to support digital technologies. Enterprises can look for unified software defined servers that can include scale-out architecture. This will enable IT to readily deliver cost-effective, cloud-like secondary storage and data protection services.

In evaluating scale-out in relationship to IT data protection and management needs, here are some key questions:

  • What is IT’s vision for data platform demands now and looking ahead?
  • Is hyperconvergence being deployed for primary storage already or on your near-term radar for deployment? Are you upgrading your data protection to meet these greater demands on your IT organization?
  • Are you meeting user demands for such efficiencies as application portability, easier access and use of data, and delivery of advanced data protection throughout a hybrid IT environment?
  • Have you considered, or yet adopted, a service-oriented model for your internal constituents to be able to readily deliver data protection and management services?

A unified data management platform, integrating scale-out architecture for secondary storage or data protection and management, is a solution IT has to consider. It enables IT to meet internal user demands for a compute environment in which workers can be as agile as they need to be to fully participate in digital transformation.

IT business value and scale-out

Extending the use of scale-out from primary to secondary storage and to data protection and management prompts an examination of whether this enhances business value by improving enterprise operations, supporting business growth and promoting customer success. Taking these characteristics into consideration, how does scale-out in a unified, data platform measure up?

Here are some key benefits that support business value:

  • Predictable performance as your environment grows
  • Better hardware utilization and optimized hardware costs
  • Web-like scalability that facilitates business growth
  • Application portability
  • Streamlined cloud integration

Scale-out for secondary storage or data protection can also provide a great benefit in reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) closer to web-scale economies. By integrating general purpose hardware rather than purpose-built appliances or proprietary hardware, IT can save staff resources and better control costs by purchasing only what you need when you need it.

Scale-out may be right for you

Evaluating scale-out versus scale-up from the aspect of adding value to your digital enterprise, data management and business growth strategies – and where you are in terms of deploying hyperconvergence – gives you a sound basis by which to determine if you’re right for a move to scale-out. It can be your data security blanket, giving you the secondary storage or data protection and management you need as you craft an IT environment to fully support digital transformation.