10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building Out a Storage System

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2014-06-24 Print this article Print

With the emergence of Web-scale architectures, the continued proliferation of unstructured and structured data, and the growth of open-source software in the data center, the promise of better cost structures has given rise to organizations going the build-your-own-storage (BYOS) route. But should they? Storage companies employ specialists to solve complex data management problems; they envision the various ways where storage can go wrong because they have already been there, done that previously. The amount of time and effort required not only to build the solution but to maintain it on an ongoing basis needs to be seriously considered. The constant introduction of new applications, networking updates and disk drive firmware and the problems that interoperability brings to the table make one wonder: What is the value of your own storage? What drawbacks should a DIYer be ready to encounter throughout the process? In this eWEEK slide show, put together with eWEEK reporting and an industry perspective from Gokul Sathiacama, vice president of product management at storage solutions provider Coraid, you'll get an inside look at the potential pitfalls you are likely to encounter when trying to build your own storage.

  • 10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building Out a Storage System

    By Chris Preimesberger
    10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building Out a Storage System
  • 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.
    How Will Your Hardware and Software Interoperate?
  • 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.
    When You Have Questions, Who Do You Call? IT Support?
  • 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.
    What About Software Integration?
  • 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.
    Building Simplicity Is Not Simple
  • 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.
    Depth of Expertise: Who's Really the Mastermind in All of This?
  • 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.
    Maintenance: Is it Time for Your Checkup?
  • 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.
    Multitenancy: Tuning for Multiple Workloads
  • 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.
    Testing and Validation: Time for Trial and Error
  • 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.
    Acquisition Cost of Hardware
  • 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.
    Welcome to the Company!
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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