In a recent blog entitled Pros and Cons of Buying a One-Vendor Storage Solution, Randy Kerns outlines the arguments for and against sticking with one storage vendor. Pro arguments include the simplicity of dealing with a single storage vendor vs. several for troubleshooting and support and the reduced costs that may come from rolling the price of a new technology into a bigger volume purchase. He also argues that single-vendor solutions have the advantage of easy integration. For cons, Kerns simply mentions possible higher cost from a more expensive vendor and the possibility of not getting the best solution. He concludes by predicting that single vendor solutions will predominate, thanks to lower complexity and reduced training and administration costs.
I have a few things to say about this argument. First, Randy’s conclusion makes a lot of sense if you’re talking about an established mainstream application scenario. However, when it comes to SSD and other cutting edge storage technologies, the scenario is anything but mainstream. Many companies turn to SSD because of serious application performance bottlenecks that have all but crippled mission-critical, revenue-producing applications and have not been solved by mainstream vendors. For many organizations running OLTP applications, transaction volume translates directly into revenue. I would argue that if you’re running into these types of mission-critical, revenue-dependent performance issues, you’ll want the best possible solution to address them. Newer, SSD-focused companies such as Kaminario are more likely to deliver that best-of-breed solution than the major storage vendors, and our test results, including the recent SPC-1 results, have demonstrated that. So in this case performance often trumps ease of support and management, as long as the best of breed solution plays reasonably well with others.
Does Kaminario play well with the major vendor storage solutions? The answer is yes, as it uses standard storage interfaces and LUNs for configuration. Talk to any Kaminario customer and you won’t find any complaints about installation and integration. Check our case study page for lots of examples of easy installation and integration into existing storage environments. Start with TestAmerica, which easily integrated the K2 into a Dell Compellent SAN environment. Then take a look at the PetMed Express and ActiveTrail case studies, which show easy integration with IBM and NetApp storage environments.
Second, the major storage vendors are less likely to deliver the best SSD solution for your business requirement because they’re out to sell a product that complements and protects their large legacy storage investment, not one that competes with it. That’s why EMC, with its Projects Lightning and Thunder, is betting heavily on the use of SSD as a cache solution fronting your massive EMC storage installation, rather than as a primary storage solution. SSD works very well as a cache, but there are many reasons why it’s not the best solution for random data access, write heavy applications, as we’ve outlined in previous blogs. You won’t hear that from EMC, however. That’s also why HP is betting on disk-form-factor SSD solutions, which also have cost and performance disadvantages compared to the form factor used by Kaminario.
Working with a single storage vendor also presents the danger of vendor lock-in with proprietary technologies such as EMC’s storage tiering. Younger companies such as Kaminario don’t even attempt to lock you in. Rather, we’re trying as best we can to play well with mainstream SAN solutions from other vendors.
Finally, SSD focused companies are way ahead of the mainstream storage vendors when it comes to storage architectures built from the ground up to maximize SSD performance. With legacy vendor solutions you’re much more likely to run into bottlenecks created by controllers and disaster recovery technologies built for slow disk rather than super-fast SSD. In addition, with Kaminario’s open Scale-out Performance Storage Architecture (SPEAR), which was architected for high performance SSDs, we were able to quickly assimilate one of the industry’s leading flash SSD technologies, Fusion’s ioDrive Duo. This demonstrates how easily a purpose-built SSD architecture like SPEAR can play well together with bleeding edge SSD technology.
In summary, if the issue that’s giving you the most pain is administration complexity, maybe you should stick with a single vendor. But if performance bottlenecks are your biggest pain point, go for a high performance, best-of-breed SSD enterprise SSD solution that will address that pain most effectively. Then make sure it plays well with your existing storage investment.
Tags: ActiveTrail, best of breed, Compellent, Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, Kaminario, mission critical, NetApp, PedMed, performance bottleneck, Randy Kerns, revenue producing, SAN, single storage vendor, SPC-1, SSD, Test America