Monday, 15 August 2011

Build Your Own Storage Array?

So for me it's a massive temptation to build my own storage array and pop it into production...
It's significantly cheaper and possibly more perfomant than buying a pre-configured brand name unit, and it would be fun to build. Idea's of slapping multiple PCI SSD's into a supermicro chassis, and then filling the drive cages with big SATA tubs really excites me! You can get the best of both worlds - blazing fast SSD's plus big storage all in one unit. Spec up lots of RAM for a really fat cache and you have the potential to blow away most units on the market.

You get some amazing software to give you as little or as much functionality as you could possibly want - eOpen, SAN Symphony, Starwind etc. all give you amazing features or you could go VSA and try the Lefthand or other virtual SAN solution...

Yes I know these idea's are naive, but it's the basis for a lot of the storage companies out there...
So if the hardware is there, and the software is there, then why not...?

Simple - when this solution has problems, all responsibility will lie with you alone. You can't call in the cavalry when you suddenly find there is a massive compatibility issue with a new software version or firmware edition.
I don't know about you, but I have enough stress in my job already, and don't need to be lying in bed at night wondering if a new firmware version is going to fix a bug or create new ones for me... I would rather leave that to a team of professionals who focus all their time and effort on this exact question.

Is there a time I would do it? Yes, definitely. If cost was the single biggest motivating factor for the company, or if I was unable to attain the performance levels that my system required under a specific budget. Also these kinds of solutions are great for dev and test, as long as downtime is permissible and you don't have a 5 9's SLA. You can build a very big storage solution very cost effectively in this manner and you can also build some very fast systems in this way (Tony Rogerson's blog comes to mind). But they are not enterprise class solutions - and if you consider your SQL installation to be enterprise worthy, then why risk the whole thing for a few pounds?

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