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Today's enterprises require modern storage arrays that go beyond traditional storage capabilities. Some benefits of modern storage solutions are increased storage capacity, improved performance, enhanced data availability, better reliability, and more robust security. Newer storage solutions can more quickly adapt to rapidly changing business demands. New technology is also easier to manage, which reduces your operational burden. And, of course, with more recent storage, you can save big, thanks to a reduced footprint and more energy efficiency, thus realizing your sustainability goals more quickly. 

Modern storage arrays utilize advanced technologies like solid-state drives (SSDs, NVMe), flash memory, and high-speed connectivity such as Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and end-to-end next-generation fabrics such as NVMe. These technologies enable faster data access and transfer speeds, reducing latency and improving overall system performance.  

But replacing the storage arrays can be technically and fiscally challenging for many companies. For this reason, companies still run old technologies. Some are stuck on systems that are five or six-plus years old. Using outdated technology often has tangible (maintenance costs, downtime) and intangible (operational, management) costs. Depending on the age of your existing systems, the impact can be significant. 

Storage that may have filled multiple racks in the past can now be reduced to 2U or 4U of rack space. All while improving agility, performance, reliability, and security, as highlighted above. Additionally, this can make a monumental difference from an ESG perspective. 

Let's use a typical example for upgrading from FAS8020 arrays with spinning disks to a C250 with QLC SSD. Here are how the numbers stack up:

Old New 
3x FAS8020 HA pairs 1x C250 HA pair 
6x (2 each per HA pair) SAS shelves No external shelves needed 
21U rack space 2U rack space (95% decrease) 
25,859 kWh/year 4,344 kWh/year (68% less power consumption) 
Latency with spinning disks Higher throughput with lower response times 

There are specific reasons why companies may want to upgrade or modernize their storage. Here are a few:  

Mergers & Acquisitions 

According to Statista, global mergers and acquisitions reached nearly 50,000 in 2022 versus only under 3,000 in 1985.  

One large credit union recently engaged WWT to assist with its business goal to grow by acquisition. Every time this organization acquired another credit union, it needed to onboard its employees, applications, workloads, vendors, and customers. For data security and accessibility reasons, the credit union needed to keep its workloads and applications separate and functioning normally. This was especially true initially because there were so many unknowns about how the two companies would work together. Because of this, most data migration plans must be carefully considered over time. The original applications and the acquired applications may not play well together. These combined applications may cause unwanted latency issues. They can also cause capacity issues. 

WWT worked with the credit union to strategize a storage plan. Together, they examined the desired growth, security, data accessibility, workloads, applications, and resource needs and recommended a modern solution to help the credit union reach its goals.  

WWT empowered the credit union to go beyond its storage needs, and they worked holistically to combine networking, cloud, and security solutions and goals for a strategic approach that would support the company's overall efforts. 

Finally, the credit union performed proof of concept testing in WWT's ATC (Advanced Technology Center) to evaluate the recommended solutions before purchase. This saved the company time, money, and resources in ways that exceeded expectations exponentially. 

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) 

Sustainability is top of mind for most companies today, and storage modernization can also help solve problems in this arena. 

According to UNFCCC, sustainability has become increasingly critical for organizations to remain relevant and competitive today. 

Typically, your choice of a data center significantly contributes to the overall environmental impact of data storage and handling. Therefore, the overall efficiency of a data center should be an integral part of the company's data sustainability program. Unsustainable Magazine

Consider that electrical, power, and cooling consumption rates differ across the US. For instance, in the Midwest, consumption requirements are typically lower than in the US coasts. Even in a location where consumption is less of a concern, the social aspects and implications are still critical. With rising energy costs, operating expense also comes into play. An all-flash storage refresh can help solve these issues. Spinning discs have picked up the nickname "rust buckets" by the industry. Because they are mechanical, they require more power versus newer storage, where no mechanics are involved. All Flash has greater efficiencies overall—including consumption, cost, and even floor space. The difference between the two is day and night as highlighted in the previous table. 

The NetApp Difference 

NetApp's innovation priorities are: 

  • Simplicity – Same experience whether on-premises, multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud
  • Savings – Continuous improvements in cost visibility and budget
  • Sustainability – Monitor, manage, and optimize your carbon footprint
  • Security – Built-in, multi-layered, and secure

The above priorities align perfectly with most organizations that are looking to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, gain complete visibility into their environments, and reach their ESG goals. 

All models above run the purpose-built storage OS, ONTAP. ONTAP can also run in the cloud and the hybrid cloud with the same feature-rich performance, data protection, and security features as on-premises arrays—allowing you the ability to seamlessly move your data to and from the cloud.

The NetApp All SAN Array 

In addition to the enhanced security of modern storage arrays, some companies consider separating workloads across arrays and arranging by tier, application, or specific business need. Some examples are: Spinning up new lines of business or reaching new customers while leaving traditional workloads in place, separating Tier 0 and Tier 1 from Tier 2+ workloads, and separating block protocols from file protocols. While NetApp arrays provide unified protocol support (simultaneous block and file access), many customers prefer to separate these workload types. 

Workloads with very different profiles. i.e., large, sequential writes vs. small, random reads are also typical candidates for separation, as are workloads that are separated for mere peace of mind, depending on various technical reasons specific to your organization.  

Storage typically operates in an active-passive mode. If a path from a server or data center fails, it will fail over to the other path. That's typical behavior with file-level protocols, as an example. The NetApp ASA provides a full active-active configuration. Meaning all paths are active to the storage. In the event of a failover, the remaining active paths are maintained, significantly reducing path negotiation failover times. This is an essential feature for Tier 0 and Tier 1 block workloads. The ASA has game-changing guarantees, such as 99.9999% data availability and 4:1 storage efficiency. 

Just look at the data, and see that resilience and availability are off the charts. NetApp ONTAP systems already average more than six nines (99.9999%) availability across their install base, as validated by IDC. With NetApp ASA, symmetric, active-active architecture is enabled. This is typically only found on expensive high-end arrays. NetApp is confident that with this robust, streamlined solution, availability will reach or exceed six nines on every ASA system. 

Regarding cybersecurity and ransomware protection, these ASA solutions are DoD- and FINRA-certified. These strict security standards are especially important to the financial and healthcare sectors, where data is often most vulnerable. 

When updating or modernizing your storage, where should you begin? 

Work With a Partner Who Knows the Ropes 

Be wary of a transactional-based partner who will work with you on one or two projects, then disappear. Engaging with a partner who will be there with you for the long term is critical. They will work with you to examine your needs, systems, staffing, and business requirements, looking at current and future requirements from every angle.   

WWT takes a holistic approach. We'll start with a deep dive, workshop, or briefing. The primary goals are to analyze your key challenges to business growth, operational efficiencies, and cost. We'll help you understand your security, governance, and data protection needs, as well as help you identify power/cooling or floor space constraints and your ESG goals. When you engage WWT and NetApp, you will understand your environmental impact and have the validation you need to know you are a good steward of your data. WWT and NetApp will help you identify opportunities for savings—both in the short and long term. 

In partnership with NetApp, our Quick Start Offering can help you get any of the NetApp cloud products spun up quickly, so you can hit the ground running. 

Implementing a Layered Approach to Security is Critical  

NetApp adheres to a Data-Centric Zero Trust approach for storage. This is a multilayered approach to protection, identification, response, and recovery. You will want to consider built-in ransomware capabilities before making your storage decisions—companies across the globe are cautious about data protection, and understandably so. ONTAP has built-in ransomware protection, multi-admin verification, multi-factor authentication, role-based access control, and completely immutable snapshots. 

Learn more about WWT and NetApp storage solutions Contact a WWT Expert