6 Words to Kill Your IT Career With: “That’s How We’ve Always Done It!”
Like many folks in IT, when I first started out in this business, I was on the help desk. It was back then that I learned the fundamental rule of surviving in this profession: What makes you money today will cost you your job tomorrow. To be successful in IT we have to be actively seeking out new and better ways of providing value to our end users. Our greatest skill is not our current technical experience, but our ability to keep replacing our current technical skills with new ones.
For example, I used to make my money supporting Windows NT 4.0 workstations on a Windows NT 4.0 domain. Those skills quickly became irrelevant as Windows 2000 and Active Directory emerged. I used to make my money building 6 RU servers that ran multiple applications on a single operating system installed onto a local RAID 5 disk array. Those skills became irrelevant as virtualization took over and I began to deploy multiple operating systems each running a single application onto a cluster of hypervisors which were all connected to shared storage.
The funny thing is that the skills I had that became obsolete were always related to the most popular technologies and methodologies available at that time. Just look at what has changed over the last 20 years:
- Floppy drives were replaced by CDs, then DVDs to install software from, and now you just download it from the cloud
- IDE, ATA, SCSI, SAS, and FC were common types of hard drives in the data center at one time, and now the new disks are all SATA or SSDs using a SATA connection
- Token ring networks gave way to 10Mb Ethernet, then 100Mb, then 1Gb, and now 10Gb is the norm (and this excludes the giant leaps made with wireless and mobile networking)
- Physical servers populated the data center, then hypervisors, and now those hypervisors are proliferating in both on-premise and off-premise, cloud data centers
You would think that all of the above would keep anyone with an IT career from uttering the words “That’s how we’ve always done it!”
Yet when I talk to various technical professionals about their storage solutions no longer needing to be a pair of controllers managing disks that form RAID groups for provisioning volumes and LUNs with some people have a reflex response of “That’s how we’ve always done it!”
While the statement might be true, the context in which it is used is that a history of prior successes justifies technical stagnation. It reminds of this quote attributed to Henry Ford regarding how he approached designing his first automobile:
“If I had listened to the customer I would have built a faster horse.”
Henry Ford understood that people were using the best solution that was available to them at that time. Henry Ford also understood that the best solution available at that time was too expensive while at the same time unable to keep up with his customer’s needs. Horse driven carriages and wagons was a technology that could not be significantly improved upon. That is why Henry Ford built automobiles which eventually revolutionized both transportation and modern society.
Storage controllers managing shelves of disks from which RAID groups are created to deploy volumes and LUNs with is an approach that has also run its course. The traditional model for centralized storage has to change not because it is bad technology, but because it is no longer being innovated and improved upon in a way to support new usage paradigms technologies like virtualization are driving.
The time has come to embrace a new way of deploying storage because our needs have outgrown the traditional approach to storage and the storage industry knows it. The problem is that the storage industry is also making a lot of money on this traditional approach to storage. I am willing to bet that horse breeders and ranchers made a lot more money before the Model T came out as well.
The future of storage is flexibility that not only enables but optimizes virtual machine infrastructures. Coho Data’s architecture does just that by leveraging flash PCIe technology to provide the performance power needed for an object based datastore. It’s also been designed from the ground up to ensure that you will never again need to manage RAID groups, volumes and LUNs.
As Chris Wahl, Senior Solutions Architect at Ahead, stated in his review of the Coho DataStream ”Mounting the storage is a snap. The mount point is simply “/” because the solution is just one big distributed storage volume.” This approach was done by design as our founders wanted to eliminate alot of the headaches that come with managing traditional storage.
The Coho Data storage solution was designed by virtualization experts (founders of Xen Source) for storing your data while delivering built-in analytics to surface per workload health statistics so you don’t have to spend hours troubleshooting performance issues or guess when you’ll need more capacity. The best part is that by leveraging software defined networking technology for connecting multiple generations of commodity hardware, you have a solution that can scale both up and out. That means controller and forklift upgrades are a thing of the past.
A few closing thoughts…
Take a look at your current storage infrastructure and ask yourself if it is really delivering what you need for today’s cutting edge virtualized infrastructures, or is it just the next re-packaging of what has always been done before? Buying bigger and bigger scale-up arrays, whether they’re disk or flash, does not deliver the innovation to fundamentally change your storage processes for the better. The rest of the data center has embraced change, so now it is time to change how we do storage to better fit our organizations’ needs. If you are interested in learning more about how Coho Data can help you acquire storage built for today’s IT infrastructures, contact us to arrange for an on-line demo.
I guarantee that you will not see a solution that is anything like the way storage has always been done before. Instead you will see how storage can and should be done moving forward.
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