I am total believer in the “Design-First” approach where we think about the UI from user perspective before we engage Technical architects. I have led many such successful project over the past several years and believe it is a recipe for success. Looks like Microsoft has taken the same approach. Check out http://gigaom.com/2013/10/13/a-peek-inside-microsofts-new-design-first-development-strategy/
Are you evaluating Object storage? Have you converted existing applications to utilize Object storage? What is your experience doing this?
If you are not familiar with Object storage check this out.
Here is a basic overview of the difference between block and object storage – http://www.openstack.org/software/openstack-storage/
It seems like the time has come to consider Block storage
While HBase provides a lot of in-built functionality to manage region splits, it is not sufficient to ensure optimal performance. The number of regions in a table, and how those regions are split are crucial factors in understanding, and tuning your HBase cluster load. You should monitor the load distribution across the regions at all times, and if the load distribution changes over time, use manual splitting, or set more aggressive region split sizes.
Good article from HortonWorks to help you get started on Region splitting.