Don't start reading the last rites for monolithic storage just yet

But other tech can simply do the job better, sorry


Monolithic arrays, like mainframes, will linger long

With all these alternatives it's easy to think that monolithic arrays will wither and die, being carted out of data centres to become land fill or grist for metal recycling shops. Not so. A significant amount of data is stored on them and their operation and management is well-understood by their owners.

New applications, such as Big Data analytics, often have their data stored on newer Hadoop-style storage. So that data never goes near monolithic arrays. Other data, such as the high-performance stuff, can be migrated directly off the monoliths onto newer all-flash or hybrid arrays.

But storage needs for the remaining data types on the monoliths are still growing. What takes 150TB today will need 200TB in three months and 500TB next year, so any vacated space can readily get re-used.

Also monoliths can be extended so that they tier data up to fast access all-flash-arrays, and downwards to the public cloud, as EMC has done with VMAX, so that they play nice in the extending storage device world.

Even when a lease period for a monolithic array ends the alternatives have costs of their own and bean-counters' spreadsheets can conclude it's less costly to keep the DS8000 operating than to ship it out and move all the data elsewhere.

The likelihood is that they will linger on with overall capacity growing slowly or shrinking while the capacity of clustered modular arrays, hybrids, object stores, Big Data stores, archives and public cloud shoots up, collectively storing more and more of each business' share of the digital data universe.

The centre of IT on-premises storage gravity has moved from monolithic arrays to clustered modular arrays. We can expect them to grow in capacity and speed, and to interoperate better with all-flash arrays and the public cloud, and also with Big Data repositories.

Software-defined data centres are coming and all storage arrays taking part will have to be integrated so that the top-level admin staff see a single logical storage resource from which they provision their applications with the right storage stuff.

Even in the long-term storage care homes they look to be heading towards, monolithic arrays can play a role in the SW-defined data centre, while ceding primacy to clustered modular arrays. They, in turn, will no doubt cede primacy to something else.

It's just not clear yet exactly what that something else will be. So marvel at the battleships, the monoliths. We'll not see their like again. ®


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