Scale-Out vs. Scale-Up Storage

Thanks to the significant innovations in scale-out architecture in the past few years, combined with rapid data growth in Enterprise data centers, the cost and complexity argument between scale up and scale out has now flipped for most environments and significantly favors scale-out.

The cost of scaling

For small capacity (<50TB) environments that don’t need to scale over time, fixed controller-based systems likely can be cheaper and simpler. But as soon as you add the element of scale, the element of growth, or the element of long-term TCO, a good scale-out architecture will be significantly less expensive and simpler. With a scale-up architecture, you either need to move to a faster controller for more performance, or add entirely new storage systems. Both of these options have significant costs associated with them. Moving to a faster controller usually involves data migration and you are left with an unused controller. Adding new storage systems exposes customers to data migration as well as the burden of more and more islands of storage to manage. A good scale-out architecture allows you to scale UP or DOWN by adding and removing nodes with no data migration and no increase in management burden. Storage systems can be sized based on the logical, physical, and application requirements of a datacenter, rather than arbitrary vendor-specific configurations.

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