Is Computer Data Storage Complex? It Depends

October 28, 2014 – 9:03 pm

Is Computer Data Storage Complex? It Depends

I often get asked, or, told that computer data storage is complex with so many options to choose from, apples to oranges comparison among other things.

On a recent trip to Europe while being interviewed by a Dutch journalist in Nijkerk Holland at a Brouwer Storage Consultancy event I was presenting at, the question came up again about storage complexity. Btw, you can read the article on data storage industry trends here (its in dutch).

I hesitated and thought for a moment and responded that in some ways it’s not as complex as some make it seem, although there is more to data storage than just cost per capacity. As I usually do when asked or told how complex data storage is my response is a mixed yes it (storage, data and information infrastructure) are complex, however lets put it in perspective which is storage any more complex than other things?

Our conversation then evolved with an example that I find shopping for an automobile complex unless I know exactly what I’m looking for. After all there are cars trucks SUV’s used new buy lease different manufacturers makes and models speeds cargo capacity management tools and interfaces not to mention metrics and fuel.

This is where I usually mention how IMHO buying a new car or vehicle is with all the different options, that is unless you know what you want, or know your selection criteria and options. Same with selecting a new laptop computer, tablet or smart phone, not to mention a long list of other things that to the outsiders can also seem complex, intimidating or overwhelming. However lets take a step back to look at storage then return to compare some other things that may be confusing to those who are not focused on them.

Stepping back looking at storage

Similar to other technologies, there are different types of data storage to meet various needs from performance to space capacity as well as support various forms of scaling.

server and storage I/O flow
Server and storage I/O fundamentals

Storage options
Various types of storage devices including HDD’s, SSHD/HHDD’s and SSD’s

Storage type options
Various types of storage devices

Storage I/O decision making

Storage options, block, file, object, ssd, hdd, primary, secondary, local and cloud

Shopping for other things can be complex

During my return trip to the US from the Dutch event, I had a layover at London Heathrow (LHR) and walking the concourse it occurred to me that while there are complexities involved with different technologies including storage, data and information infrastructures, there were other complexities.

Same thing with shoes so any differ options not to mention cell phones or laptops and tablets, or how about tv’s?

I wan to go on a trip do I book based on lowest cost for air fare then hotel and car rental, or do I purchase a package? For the air fare is it the cheapest yet that takes all day to get from point a to b via plane changes at points c d and e not to mention paying extra fees vs paying a higher price for a direct flight with extra amenities?

Getting hungry so what to do for dinner, what type of cuisine or food?

Hand Baggage options
How about a new handbag or perhaps shoes?

Baggage options
How about a new backpack, brief case or luggage?

Beverage options
What to drink for a beverage, so many options unless you know what you want.

PDA options
Complexity of choosing what cell phone, PDA or other electronics

What to read options
How about what to read including print vs. online accessible content?

How about auto parts complexity

Once I got home from my European trip I had some mechanical things to tend to including replacing some spark plugs.

Auto part options
How about automobile parts from tires, to windshield wiper blades to spark plugs?

Sure if you know the exact part number and assuming that part number has not changed, then you can start shopping for the part. However recently I had a part number based on a vehicle serial number (e.g. make, model, year, etc) only to receive the wrong part. Sure the part numbers were correct, however along the line somewhere the manufacture made a change and not all downstream vendors knew about the part change, granted I eventually received the correct part.

Back to tech and data infrastructures

Ok, hopefully you got the point from the above examples among many others in that we live in world full of options and those options can bring complexity.

What type of network or server? How about operating system, browser, database, programming or development language as there are different needs and options?

Sure there are many storage options as not everything is the same.

Likewise while there can be simple answer with a trend of what to use before the question is understood (perhaps due to a preference) or explained, the best or applicable answer may be it depends. However saying it depends may seem complex to those who just want a simple answer.

Closing Comments

So is storage more complex than other technologies, tools, products or services?

What say you?

Ok, nuff said, for now…


Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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