In the last few years, the implementation of cloud solutions — be it public, hybrid or private — has caused differing reactions among IT professionals. One reaction among administrators is a sigh of relief in having a converged infrastructure (locally or remote) where data can be shared and effectively managed. However, there’s another segment of administrators that look to the cloud and wonder if their data is safe out there.

Any application environment, be it cloud or local, relies on the quality of implemented fundamental building blocks that are intermeshed to create a single solution. It’s the components of a solution that need to be scrutinized to ensure they fit together harmoniously — and in a manner that is optimal from a cost-versus-risk perspective. So without further babbling about the overall cloud picture, let me introduce some facts about one of the key components of any cloud or solution infrastructure: the storage.

As the fundamental building blocks relate to storage, there are some very basic topics to consider.

  • Hardware reliability
  • Operational costs
  • Quality of service

According to Gartner Group, certain market segments report the typical cost of infrastructure downtime at around $5,600 for each minute or well over $300K per hour. And according to an EMC study, more than $1.7 trillion is attributed each year to data loss and downtime. A large portion of this data loss may be attributed to poor choices and risks that might have been avoided when considering the best storage device for your data center.

Lenovo recently launched a new series of SAN products, the Lenovo Storage S2200 and Lenovo Storage S3200, which provide a solid foundation to any solution that needs to have its mission-critical data, or general-purpose data for that matter, always available. If you’re looking at the Lenovo Storage SAN products and wondering if you can trust your valuable data in our care, the answer is an astounding yes, and here’s why.

Hardware reliability – Robust storage devices for mission-critical data

Lenovo SAN products have fully active, redundant components that eliminate single points of failure and provide alternative paths for data as well as power. This is a fundamental method to create a higher mean time between failures (MTBF) for the overall system.

Both the S2200 and S3200 arrays are fully compliant with the NEBS Level 3 and MIL-STD-810 telecommunications and military standards. They are also built for 99.999 percent reliability, which is reflected by a configure-and-forget concept that lowers the overall total cost of ownership.

What does NEBS and MIL compliance give you in terms of the hardware? You get a storage system that is resistant to vibration, temperature (high and low), altitude, air-born particles and humidity. A system built to go anywhere, that reliably, keeps on ticking.

From a hardware design perspective this is probably one of the safest places to store your data.

Operational costs – Environmental features that save money

Lenovo Storage S2200 and S3200 have some key features and functions to reduce operational costs and costs of the systems over years of service.

Batteries for cache backup (in case of a power failure) are nasty little things, because every couple of years they need to be replaced, creating downtime and service costs that can be avoided. Lenovo storage utilizes super-capacitor technology that eliminates the need for battery maintenance and is significantly more efficient. The super capacitors charge in about two minutes in comparison to eight or more hours as with typical batteries. The limitation for power restoration of “within 48 hours” becomes irrelevant in the S2200 and S3200 series due to the cache data having been flushed to compact flash storage.

Another green feature is the configurable option allowing drives to “spin down”. This is a great way for small- and medium-sized businesses to reduce power and cooling costs during periods where operations allow “quiet” time. The drives wake up within seconds should an access be required in a down phase, and at any given time, connected servers see the storage as active and ready. Studies in our labs have shown an aggregate power cost savings for a single chassis of SAS disks in a 5x9 environment of more than $185 per year (the cooling cost savings are on top of this). Hmmm … for a 90TB solution that calculates to be in excess of $925.That’s a lot of pizza for the IT department, which they deserve anyway — big shout out to all those IT resources!

What about quality of service or quality of storage?

Lenovo Storage S2200 and S3200 utilize advanced-controller algorithms that allow written data to be optimally positioned on the physical disks in a manner that prevents data from one host to become intermeshed or fragmented into data from another host. The data is handled in a manner that enhances read-and-write performance aspects and reduces overall latency when running in active-active scenarios. Even though many servers may be utilizing the system, the controllers are still capable of ensuring a level quality of service between all.

Another core quality-of-service feature of the Lenovo Storage systems is the ability to tier data in real-time so that the most-accessed data is resident on a storage pool subcomponent that has the optimal performance level for that data-access requirement (e.g. SSD, SAS, Nearline). This is not some batch concept where data is periodically moved around based upon a script. It’s really real-time. When data gets hot, it is immediately promoted to the next-higher tier, and as it cools off, it will be replaced by other data that is hotter, and will move back down.

The key point is that by creating an efficient tiered solution, you get the benefits of speed and capacity while your data is being positioned in an autonomic manner to ensure that the right data is in the right place.

So there you have it. Not all clouds are created equal! They need to ensure data availability by using reliable hardware, keep operational costs low so you can buy pizza for the IT department and include optimized controller features that deliver your data where and when you need it. 

What are some other building blocks of cloud storage that should have made this list?

Remember to check out the new Lenovo SAN products