10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building Out a Storage System

10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building Out a Storage System
How Will Your Hardware and Software Interoperate?
When You Have Questions, Who Do You Call? IT Support?
What About Software Integration?
Building Simplicity Is Not Simple
Depth of Expertise: Who's Really the Mastermind in All of This?
Maintenance: Is it Time for Your Checkup?
Multitenancy: Tuning for Multiple Workloads
Testing and Validation: Time for Trial and Error
Acquisition Cost of Hardware
Welcome to the Company!
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10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building Out a Storage System

By Chris Preimesberger

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How Will Your Hardware and Software Interoperate?

To ensure that the applications will function properly, you need to consider whether you have the right hardware. To do that, you need to spend significant time verifying compatibility. Is the hardware compatible with the selected OS? Does the OS have the required device driver support? This includes choosing the appropriate OS that will provide software for the hardware to function without additional device driver development or integration.

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When You Have Questions, Who Do You Call? IT Support?

"Do it yourself" also means "fix it yourself." Somebody has to support the infrastructure when questions arise or when an issue is at hand. After all, that's the idea of support. Just as any customer needs a customer service representative to call when he or she experiences a problem beyond his or her knowledge to fix an issue, you need to have a trusted "go-to" contact.

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What About Software Integration?

Storage companies may make integrating solutions look easy, but it is often not as simple as it seems. Storage vendors have insights and context gained from long years of integrating software that was designed for data storage. Those who are less familiar need to plan on spending a significant amount of time tuning the environment and ensuring the applications function properly. If you are building it yourself, take into consideration how these modules will work together and the fact that you will need to re-validate your infrastructure every time new software updates are released—which may be frequent.

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Building Simplicity Is Not Simple

Different people have different connotations for the term "simplicity." If you are building an application (say an iPhone app), you will go through multiple iterations of the application interface based on user feedback. Are you ready to handle these iterations and continuous updates to the application and infrastructure? The more perspectives there are in the design, the more diversified simplicity will be. Storage providers get continuous feedback from their customers and employ dedicated user-experience designers to ensure that the solution is simple to deploy, operate and troubleshoot for a variety of different use cases.

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Depth of Expertise: Who's Really the Mastermind in All of This?

Having subject matter expertise through deep technical knowledge and hands-on experience when building storage infrastructure makes a huge difference in the long run. Even if you plan to start out small, are you sure you are building the right foundation for your company's data growth? Acquiring all of that knowledge from the ground up can be a tedious and painful road, especially if eating, breathing and sleeping storage isn't your thing.

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Maintenance: Is it Time for Your Checkup?

If not done properly, maintenance can become a pain point and affect the entire infrastructure. Maintaining a solution consists of tasks such as software patches and regular product refreshes, among other things, to preserve an efficient infrastructure. At the same time, the maintenance of an infrastructure calls for an associated cost and time investment you may or may not be willing and able to commit to.

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Multitenancy: Tuning for Multiple Workloads

Different applications have varying performance and capacity requirements. As an example, will your solution for unstructured content be able to support your transaction applications? When building a storage infrastructure, it is important to build with multitenancy in mind—allowing for the needs of each application or user to be accounted for in a single platform. Otherwise, the support burden of discrete solutions or infrastructures for different applications will overburden the infrastructure team.

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Testing and Validation: Time for Trial and Error

Most companies are not comfortable taking a new piece of hardware or software and plugging it into their production environment without first doing a little (or a lot of) testing and validation. Before you deploy, you need to make sure it can meet all of your current as well as growing business demands. Doing this on your own can be challenging and expensive. You need to buy all the equipment, run the various tests on performance and scalability, and figure out the right tuning recipe.

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Acquisition Cost of Hardware

Because enterprise organizations buy in large volumes, they have the leverage to negotiate deep discounts with hardware vendors. You need to consider whether or not your company will have enough buying power to compete with the big players in the market. If not, you won't see any cost savings for DIY storage.

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Welcome to the Company!

Do-it-yourself storage also means that you're probably going to have a customized solution. It is important to consider that the personnel building, deploying and or maintaining the infrastructure likely won't be there forever. Will you have a solid training plan in place for new employees? Otherwise, there may not be anyone around who is familiar enough with the system to enhance or even perform regular maintenance.

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