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Scale-Out Storage: The Gold Standard for Complex IT Environments

Storage capacity—and what to do when it runs out—are critical issues that can keep IT administrators up at night. A successful storage strategy is all about smart scalability. The overall objective is being able to add capacity quickly and easily without disrupting operations.

Modern IT environments have become extremely complex. That’s due to the massive growth of both structured and unstructured data, as well as the exponential increase in the number of applications and platforms running in an organization’s environment. It’s vital that any storage solution maintain the availability of data and applications while delivering the capacity and performance needed for diverse workloads. 

Today’s enterprises have many options about how best to scale their storage capacity, but it typically begins with one crucial choice: to scale up or scale out? While scale-up storage architecture has been the standard for decades, today’s complex environments need a new approach. That’s why enterprises are increasingly turning to scale-out storage. 

Let’s take a quick look at why. 

Scale-Up Storage Can’t Keep Up with Today’s Needs 

Scale-up storage is made up of drives that you can manage with a pair of controllers. When you run out of capacity in your existing drives, you simply install another shelf of drives. The controllers, however, can only manage a certain number of drives. When that limit is reached, you have to purchase another set of controllers and drives to expand the storage capacity further. 

As time goes on and more controllers and drives are added, you end up with a collection of siloed systems that need to be managed separately. This can have a serious impact on performance, as well as backup and recovery times. Keeping track of which files and data are in which system can be complicated. Having to decide where workloads should reside can significantly decrease efficiency.

What Is Scale-Out Storage?

Scale-out storage is a network-attached storage (NAS) architecture that abstracts away the details of the underlying hardware so that you can expand system capacity as a single resource pool without creating data silos when new servers are added.

Scale-out storage offers an innovative alternative to scale-up architecture. It’s based on nodes that you can manage and monitor from a single pane of glass. The nodes are similar to scale-up storage controllers, but nodes have visibility into only the disks they’re attached to. Each node contains its own disk storage capacity, as well as its own memory, CPU, and networking resources to help enhance performance.

Instead of adding more storage disks to an existing pair of controllers, you can incrementally add more nodes to a dynamic cluster of nodes that form one large, easily expandable resource pool.

Scale-out storage delivers endlessly flexible scalability and allows organizations to seamlessly add storage capacity as they grow. It eliminates silos and simplifies storage management and upgrades.

Benefits of Scale-Out Storage

Scale-out storage provides support for high-capacity, high-performance workloads that require low latency. It greatly reduces disruption to operations and makes storage efficient and easy to manage.

Scale-out storage also:

  • Eliminates scalability limitations and storage silos with flexible, dynamic clusters
  • Increases user productivity with a single pool of searchable data
  • Reduces the cost of scaling by allowing incremental growth and helping avoid overprovisioning
  • Delivers consistent performance because controller resources are added along with capacity
  • Protects data better with self-healing properties built into the cluster
  • Improves operations with the ability to nondisruptively replace old nodes with new ones

Pure Storage Can Help Improve Your Storage Experience

Pure Storage® has a range of scale-out storage solutions that can deliver the capacity and performance you need for your most specialized workloads. Pure can help you modernize your storage system, whether you’re looking for all-flash performance, robust public-cloud storage, storage as a service, or a solution that’s powered by artificial intelligence.


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