Data growth continues to accelerate, straining storage infrastructures and pressing organizations to find ways to control storage costs. Small to midsize businesses (SMBs) often try to lower costs with the use of consumer-grade storage, but that is a risky strategy. While it will certainly lower costs in the near term, it creates the very real possibility of increased operating and downtime costs down the road.
Simply put, consumer-grade technology is built for consumer-grade workloads. For example, consumer-grade hard drives are typically designed to handle an annual workload limit of about 25TB per year – far less than the 500TB annual limit for most enterprise-grade drives. Unsurprisingly, failure rates skyrocket when consumer-grade drives are plugged into arrays and subjected to data center workloads.
Another big difference is the always-on nature of the business environment. Data center storage arrays are powered up all the time and are rarely idle for any length of time. When they aren't supporting application requests or data saves, they are often involved in error detection, system backup and other maintenance tasks – all of which places additional stress on mechanical components. Consumer-grade devices just weren't meant for that type of constant activity.
In hybrid arrays that combine traditional hard drives with flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs), it has become fairly common to use consumer-grade SSDs as a cost-control method. The theory is that since flash drives are electronic without the mechanical limitations of hard drives, they can handle the extra workload. There are multiple tradeoffs, however.
The life expectancy of a flash drive is measured by the number of write or erase cycles it can take before becoming unstable. Consumer drives built for light activity lack the durability of enterprise-class SSDs and can wear out more than 10 times faster. Enterprise SSD also offers significantly faster data transfer rates with multi-Gigabit-per-second throughput compared to about 2500Mbps for top-of-the-line consumer products.
Consumer-grade storage may provide plug-and-play simplicity, but with none of the scalability, capacity or optimization features of a business-grade solution. However, many SMBs often feel as though they have no choice due to the upfront costs of enterprise-grade storage.
iXsystems is removing that barrier with its line of TrueNAS storage appliances designed for smaller organizations that need reliable, enterprise-class storage. Based on the FreeNAS open-source software-defined storage system, the TrueNAS X10 is a unified storage array that delivers 20TB of hybrid file and block storage for under $10,000.
TrueNAS X10 arrays are loaded with enterprise-grade capabilities, including VMware, Citrix and Veeam certifications, integration with public clouds, capacity-efficient features such as block-level inline compression, deduplication, and thin provisioning, as well as snapshots, replication and data-at-rest encryption.
TrueNAS X10 is available in a single-controller or a dual-controller configuration. iXsystems recommends the dual-controller configuration for customers requiring high availability, but notes that those with budget constraints may opt for the single-controller version initially and then upgrade to a dual-configuration at a later point. Each storage controller is anchored by a high-performance, systems-on-a-chip (SOC) Intel Xeon D-1531 processor.
Although it is important to limit costs and conserve cash when possible, you need reliable technology to drive business efficiency. With data growth accelerating at a rapid pace, using consumer-grade solutions to address your storage needs is a gamble that could result in downtime, lost data and other operational issues.