– Rob Commins, vice president of marketing, Tegile Systems, says:

If you’ve read stories about the “death of the hard drive,” you may have been misled into believing that there is no longer a place in the enterprise storage market for what many storage architects fondly refer to as “spinning rust.” It is certainly the case that storage is undergoing a major transformation, but it’s clear that smart enterprises are not completely abandoning what is tried and true technology just yet.  Additionally, there are vendors actively working with these enterprises and providing them with solutions which intelligently leverage traditional, high capacity hard drives as a cornerstone component of their next-generation storage systems. When combined with more modern, speedy solid state storage devices, new life is breathed into traditional hard drives and customers that purchase these hybrid HDD/SSD storage arrays are finding that the outcomes are exactly what the business needs to continue to forge ahead.

As is the case for everything, there are certainly fringe use cases that call for something other than hybrid storage. Pure archiving, for example, generally calls for large capacity hard disk drives while very high end analytics might call for an all-flash solution that can deliver a million IOPS or more in a single chassis.

For mainstream workloads — in other words, the other 95% of the market — hybrid storage provides the perfect solution for mixed I/O workloads. Here are three reasons that hybrid shines for these mainstream environments.

Balanced cost vs. performance

CIOs today demand the best possible return on their investment and they’re not willing to simply throw money at narrowly purposed and over-engineered sub-systems to get the kind of performance they need to run their workloads. A more flexible solution is required.

Enter hybrid.

Hybrid storage arrays provide CIOs with the best of both worlds when it comes to balancing real world capacity needs with real world performance needs. Even though many all-flash storage vendors make the news by demonstrating a million+ IOPS from their arrays, most CIOs simply don’t need that kind of performance and aren’t willing to pay the very high cost per gigabyte (capacity) that accompanies the low cost per IOPS (performance) from these arrays.
By buying hybrid, CIOs are seeing $/GB prices that approach that of hard disk drive-based storage while paying $/IOPS prices that simply isn’t possible to achieve with HDDs or SSDs alone. Only when HDDs and SSDs are brought together into one is it possible to truly balance capacity and performance needs.

Simplified technology environment

Another trend that is seeing momentum revolves around simplifying the technology environment. Storage systems haven’t generally been considered the easiest IT infrastructure components to manage and over the years, the whole paradigm has become even more complex as IT departments deploy new kinds of workloads with wildly variant I/O patterns.

In considering the history of VDI, for example, CIOs that were early adopters of this technology often found that they needed to deploy completely separate storage environments in order to contend with the unique challenges wrought by the desire to go thin. In other cases, CIOs have supported environments that required complex masses of tiered storage with storage administrators carefully carving out new LUNs based on what they hoped were correct workload specifications.

With a hybrid solution, IT departments can jettison the tiers and have just one single tier of storage: Fast. And again, the pure performance of a hybrid solution doesn’t come with a capacity trade off. Organizations get it all in one box.

No compromise

It boils down to this: With a hybrid storage solution for mainstream workloads, CIOs don’t have to compromise. They get capacity and performance, but with almost all of the solutions that have hit the market in recent years, they also get enterprise grade features, such as de-duplication (which further improves the capacity of the solution and, for some vendors, such as Tegile, actually improves the overall performance of the workloads hosted on the array), compression, scalability (up and/or out depending on the vendor) and, with some vendors, such as, again, Tegile, a broad suite of communications protocols that allow the hybrid array to simply drop into just about any modern technology environment with little to no hassle required.

For these reasons and many more, hybrid storage arrays will be the sweet spot in the storage market for the foreseeable future for just about any mainstream workload need.

About Rob Commins

Rob Commins is vice president of marketing, Tegile Systems. He has been instrumental in the success of some of the storage industry’s most interesting companies over the past twenty years. As Vice President of Marketing at Tegile, he leads the company’s marketing strategy, go to market and demand generation activities, as well as competitive analysis. Rob comes to Tegile from HP/3PAR, where he led the product marketing team through several product launches and 3X customer growth over three quarters. Rob also managed much of the functional marketing and operations integration after Hewlett Packard acquired 3PAR. At Pillar Data Systems, he was at the forefront of converged NAS/SAN storage systems and application-aware QoS in mid-range storage. Rob is also a veteran of StorageWay, one of the first storage services providers that launched cloud services.