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Making the Right Storage Choices: 10 Must-Ask Questions

A Guide to Storage System Deployment


If you sit down with any storage vendor, youre likely to hear that its solution can do everything you need and that its product is the perfect solution. In many cases, the truth isnt revealed until its too late. Whether you are consolidating your storage, trying to improve application performance, or looking to get the most out of your databases, its important to ask the right questions. This quick guide will arm you with the questions you need to consider when reviewing your storage strategy.

1. Is all your storage highly available?


Many vendors have a clever way around the high-availability (HA) question. Theyll say they have HA systems, but only their most expensive models will have the feature. Or theyll say you can have HA with your current systemif you just buy another controller and more software. Dont be fooled. A true HA system has some distinctive features.

It has fully redundant active components, so any active component can fail and the system will continue to operate. It enables you to replace active components, live, without losing data access or incurring downtime. It gives all data, regardless of tier, at least one level of protection from drive failure. It actively monitors itself so that it can detect (and fix) data errors before a crisis.

A true HA system offers all those benefitsand not just on the high-end model. If you want true high availability, be sure that is whats being proposed.

2. What does your vendor really mean by scalability?


You ask if it can scale, and the answer is yes. But you find out later that scaling means one thing to you and something else to the vendor. To you, scaling means adding capacity, performance, or both without adding complexity or undue cost. To the vendor, scaling might mean adding a second system with a segmented or separate storage pool. But when you add a second system, you arent scalingyoure being penalized for growth. You should be able to add any combination of capacity and performance without starting over with a brand-new system. Imagine if you could scale what you already have without having to do a data migration or purchase more system models, more software licenses, and more services. You canif you start with the right system.

Fact: Having multiple physical systems delivering only 30 percent to 40 percent utilization just doesnt make financial sense. You should be looking to get closer to 80 percent.

DemanD true scalabIlIty

Dont let a storage vendor make you believe you need a different storage system with every new application or database project. To some vendors, scaling means adding a second system with a segmented or separate storage pool. But when you add a second system, you arent scalingyoure being penalized for growth. Imagine if you could scale what you already have without having to do a data migration or purchase more system models, more software licenses, and more services. You canif you start with the right system.

3. can you consolidate storage and make your applications run better?
Consolidating your storage onto a single platform sounds like a good way to save on space and resources but typically means that applications have to fight for resources. You should have the ability to prioritize your applications and specify what proportion of the resources goes to which application when. Equally important is the ability to optimize the storage to meet the requirements of the application without having to pay for weeks of expensive consultant fees.

4. Is your system easy to operate and manage?


Although no one ever promises you that their storage system will be plug-and-play, theyre often not up-front about just how much time and know-how it will take to operate and manage the system. Vendors could take the time to do the research to truly understand usability challenges and design their software and systems to meet customers needs by automating data layout, provisioning, and system management. But too often, they ignore all that and come up with system designs that are elaborate, difficult, expensive to operate, and downright user-hostile. Systems requiring less time and experience to install, configure, and manage also require less investment in labor, support, services, and training over the long term. Every compromise your vendor makes on the path to true usability lowers the vendors expenses and raises yours.

5. What do vendors mean when they talk about flexibility?


Too often, flexibility is nothing more than a marketing slogan that ends up meaning that your budget should have the flexibility to buy more purpose-built solutions the next time your business requirements change. A truly flexible system should be able to meet your current needs as well as foreseen and unforeseen changes. No matter what the application or user environmentfrom the most demanding Oracle Database to cloudbased hosting servicesyou should have a choice of maximum-performance solid-state drives, performance-optimized disks, or capacity-optimized disks. And that storage should be optimizable for each application. Dont fall into the trap of thinking you need a different storage system with every new application or database project. Invest in a storage platform that will address todays storage needs and is flexible enough to address tomorrows too.

6. Does your storage help your applications run faster?


When your applications are running slowly, its noticeable. The business notices, the users notice, and you hear about it. To get the most out of your applications and databases, your storage must be tuned to function in harmony with your applications. It also must be able to deal with the peaks and troughs of demand. Ensure that your storage choice gives you the flexibility to instantly elevate or change the status, priority, and performance level of each individual application to deal with the changing demands of your business.

7. are your datacenter resources being put under strain?


Space and power have become precious commodities in most datacenters. Buying multiple physical storage devices that consume real estate and energy is an expensive drain on your resources. This is further exacerbated by the traditionally poor utilization of space and power associated with storage devices and the trade-off between utilization and performance. Ensure that your storage delivers the highest-possible utilization with minimal impact on performance in the smallest-possible footprint. Having multiple physical systems delivering only 30 percent to 40 percent utilization just doesnt make financial sense. You should be looking to get closer to 80 percent.

make the right Decision


Oracles storage solutions are designed to maximize application performance and simplify the management of critical resources. Whether you need dedicated database storage, network attached storage, or storage area network solutions, Oracle offers industry-leading platforms and unique integration with Oracle software environments. To find out more about Oracles innovative portfolio of storage products, visit oracle.com/storage

8. How can you secure and segregate data in a consolidated environment?


Although many vendors claim to have a platform for storage consolidation, it is also important to have the option of assigning physical resources such as drives to specific applications to avoid problems such as data leakage, weakened security, and performance issues. However, you still need to be able to set different priority levels and I/O attributes within those segregated storage units. This is particularly important when deploying your storage as a platform for either a public or a private cloud environment and also in avoiding downtime when upgrading storage system media. Ensure that your storage system can handle secure storage domains that deliver different service levels within the domain. This should also be underpinned by an effective data protection and disaster recovery strategy that encompasses local snapshots and cloning, continuous data protection backup, and remote replication.

9. Does your storage vendor offer complete data mobility management?


A truly consolidated storage platform should deliver a lot of flexibility in terms of where your data is located and how it is managed. The ability to create multiple copies of data and move data between tiers, service levels, domains, platforms, and geographic locations ensures that performance is optimized and secure copies of your data are always recoverable anywhere, anytime. Managing the mobility of multiple data assets requires a single integrated management interface for accessing and managing storage anywhere, from anywhere. For this to be effective, it should simplify your environment rather than adding complexity.

10. How adaptable is your storage to business change?


Adaptable storage is all about the ability to meet ever-changing business requirements. It should encompass growth, different applications with different requirements and priorities, peaks and troughs of user demand, tightening resources, and constrained budgets.

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