What is storage Quality of Service and why is it important to businesses?

Quality of service isn't just a feature you can simply add to storage

Businesses today are tasked with working out how to build a flexible, scalable platform that can support multiple workloads while improving operational efficiency. Until now, IT professionals have spent the bulk of their time tuning, tweaking, planning and troubleshooting storage performance.

But managing and troubleshooting storage performance is a labour-intensive process which takes up valuable time from delivering consistent performance.

Storage systems with native Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities have become the key transitional element for companies making the shift to a Next Generation Data Center that is home to applications and workloads that run smoothly and efficiently, rather than lagging and freezing.

So what is Quality of Service, and why is it so important for businesses to understand how to implement it?

Delivering consistent performance

QoS is a critical enabling technology for enterprise and service providers that want to deliver consistent primary storage performance. When multiple workloads share a limited resource, QoS helps provide control over how that resource is shared and prevents the noisiest' application from disrupting the performance of all the other applications in the same system.

Without storage QoS, active data will use more storage performance resources, which can starve other storage resources. Storage architecture alone cannot guarantee performance as legacy storage systems are simply not designed to handle the demands of multi-application cloud environments.

"Quality of service should not be regarded as a feature than can simply be added to a storage product," explained Simon Robinson of 451 Research. "QoS functionality that is bolted on...tends to leave conditions in which performance is unpredictable and remains a non-starter for business-critical applications.

"Complete storage QoS requires consideration and implementation at the very core of storage product design."

Being able to guarantee performance in all situations - including failure scenarios, system overload, variable workloads and elastic demand - requires an architecture built from the ground up specifically to guarantee QoS.

Dealing with the noisy neighbour'

When multiple applications share the same storage infrastructure, all performance resources are freely available to all applications, all the time. Without a more precise resource allocation, one application or "noisy neighbour" can easily consume an unfair share of the resources.

This "first-come, first-served" allocation methodology has a huge negative effect on the performance of all the other applications on the system, and expectations on an application-by-application basis can be unpredictable.

QoS can be used to eliminate resource contention and variable application performance caused by "noisy neighbours", and provide predictable performance for each application.

Benefits to businesses

The primary advantage QoS offers to enterprises is the ability to consolidate multiple workloads, particularly in ones that have been previously isolated from one another in separate storage silos. Being able to deploy many applications onto a single platform with guaranteed QoS makes it easier to address all performance-related challenges within a single storage system.

This in turn reduces the cost of operations, the number of vendors in use and the quantity of tools needed to manage storage.

QoS also offers benefits for the future. By providing a scalable platform that can grow or shrink based on the collective needs of the business, enterprises can make more efficient use of capital, space and manpower.

The ultimate effect is to drive more efficiency, more integration, better performance and improved availability for the workloads while reducing the burden of management for the operations teams.

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