8TB and 10TB hard drives are shipping. Western Digital is using Helium inside the drives, which is a “thinner” gas, requires less power and runs at lower temperatures (both big benefits to data centers). Seagate uses a technology called SMR and believes it holds promise of creating 20TB drives by 2020 (3.5 years away). There are 5.4K, 7.2K, 10K and 15K hard drives and form factors of 3.5” and 2.5”.

And then on the flash side (NAND), there is SLC, MLC and TLC (TLC or triple layer cell is used mostly in GPS devices, Cards, & USB’s). Not that long ago you could purchase a 40 or 80GB hard drive. Now a small chip, the size of your fingernail has a capacity of 64GB’s.

1 bit per cell on the SLC, 2 bits per cell on the MLC and 3 bits per cell on the TLC. TLC has more wear characteristics than the former 2. There is also PCIe bus and SAS flash drives, which have a wide spectrum of performance characteristics.

Based on the current market conditions, should we adopt SSD or go with 15K spinning drives? Should we go with 2.5” 10K drives and short stroke them or go with 3.5” 15K drives or SSD? Cost is a metric that ends up driving the conversation.

There are a number of other metrics that are very important in evaluating a storage platform, such as: IOPs, latency, bandwidth, controller or bus-level architecture, application & data characteristics, Read or write intensive, and sequential or random.

There is some talk about infrastructure being “commoditized” by virtualization. I think the infrastructure stack (including storage) has gotten even more important.

Another segment is Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). So instead of selecting a hypervisor, server/compute resources, network and storage systems…you can elect to go with a hyper-converged solution. A fully integrated solution with a single support & maintenance solution. Depending on the characteristics of your environment, these solutions can really simplify your environment.

What is the resiliency of the system? Are quality standards in place? What about upgrades and updates? How strong is the support & maintenance organization? Internal staff or third party? Local or “off shore”? 7 x 24? On-site or remote? When everything is going well, support is easy. What happens when there is an issue?

What features do we need? Snapshot, clone, thin provisioning, storage optimization (deduplication and/or compression), replication, file services…and the feature list goes on.

There is a lot of innovation taking place in the storage market. And a number of fantastic solutions that are available. We think the future of storage is pretty dynamic and exciting with many options available for our varied needs. It is a great time to assess your storage and see what is available.

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