I have taken some downtime from my blog since late October. Part of my “hiatus” was my illness which had affected my right kidney but I am happy to announce that I am well again. During this period, I spent a lot of the time reading the loads of storage technologies announcements and their marketing calls and almost every single one of them touts Performance as if it is the single “sellable” feature of the respective storage vendor. None ever positions data integrity and the technology behind it in what I believe as the most important and most fundamental feature of any storage technology – Reading the right data exactly it was written into the storage array.
[ Note: Data integrity is even more critical in cloud storage and data corruption, especially the silent ones are even more acute in the clouds ]
Sure, this fundamental feature sounds like it is a given thing in any storage array but believe me, there are enterprise storage arrays which have failed to deliver this simple feature properly. I have end users coming to me through out my storage career that they have database corruption, or file corruption and unable to access their data in an acceptable manner. Data corruption is real folks!
After several weeks of reading these stuff, I got jaded with so many storage vendors playing leapfrog announcements with their millions of IOPS boasts.
The 3 legged stool
Rewind to circa 2012, just about the time when EMC® acquired XtremIO™. XtremIO™ was a nascent All-Flash startup, and many, including yours truly, really saw the EMC® acquisition was about a high performant storage array. I was having an email conversation with Shahar Frank, one of the co-founders of XtremIO™, and expressing my views about their performance. What Shahar replied surprised me.
The fundamentals of the strength of a storage array was a like a 3-legged stool. 2 legs of the stool would be Performance, and Protection, but with 2 legs, the person sitting on the stool would fall. The 3rd leg would stabilize the balance of the stool, and this 3rd leg was Reliability. This stumped me because XtremIO™’s most sellable feature was Performance. But the wisdom of Shahar pointed to Reliability, the least exciting feature and the most dull of the 3. He was brilliant, of course and went on to found ElastiFile (acquired by Google™), but that’s another story for another day.